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Squeaky Clean Feeds


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FeedRinse launched yesterday and offers a variety of useful feed filtering options. You simply provide FeedRinse all of your RSS feeds through a variety of methods (entering the individual URLs, importing an OPML feed, or using their bookmarklet), then setup your filters, and out comes a nice and clean feed.

FeedRinse offers a free plan, allowing 3 feeds and lacking the profanity filter, as well as a Plus and Premium option (at $5/mo and $8/mo respectively), which offers more feeds (15 and 300) and including the profanity filter.

Check out FeedRinse’s tour to see the options it gives users, definitely a useful web 2.0 application

A Chat Window For Every Site


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GabblyGabbly, a very easy to use chat application, launched on March 13th at the Techdirt Greenhouse. Gabbly allows any website to have their very own chat room, via a linking/URL or an embed method, and it’s very simple to use – simply prepend http://www.gabbly.com/ to your domain and you are ready (for the URL method, embedding requires a small piece of code). To visit Betaflow’s Gabbly chat, simply use http://www.gabbly.com/betaflow.com/.

Gabbly is an interesting concept, although it’s not very feature intensive as of now. A Gabbly employee did inform me they are steadily working on more features and are taking all suggestions into consideration. Some of the most sought after features currently are moderation, security, and private messaging – all of which the Gabbly team is working on implementing.

The Gabbly chat servers are impressive as well, withstanding a digg onslaught that they’re web server could hardly manage. It will be interesting to see how the Gabbly team transitions Gabbly from an interesting application to a successful business. I see advertising within the chat window and advanced features (logs, consistent moderators, etc.) as viable options.

Darren Rowse, of Problogger, ran a short Gabbly session on his website in which he stated, “It’s interesting – but not what I am looking for. I think I will purchase Campfire and run a few chat sessions with it.”

Amazon Offers Unlimited Storage


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Amazon Web ServicesMichael Arrington got the scoop on a new Amazon Web Service called S3 that is going to change the startup world for a long time to come.

To put it simply, S3 is an infinitely large hard drive, available to developers at a dirt cheap price – don’t forget Amazon’s industry leading infrastructure that will ensure speedy transfers and reliability. Developers have the ability to read, write, and delete an unlimited number of files, via SOAP and REST interfaces, up to 5GB in size!

So, how much does it cost? Nothing to start! There’s no minimum storage and no startup fee. For storage, you’ll pay $0.15 per GB per month; for bandwidth, $0.20 per GB. That’s merely $15 per month to store 100GB of data, with a $20 charge for bandwidth on your upload.

If there ever was a startup to compete with flickr, youTube, or MySpace, when S3 launches tonight they will see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know numerous ideas have run through my mind since hearing this news.

Update: Rob Hof at Business Week has posted his thoughts on this exciting move by Amazon.

Code Igniter, Quick and Easy PHP


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I’ve been using PHP for a number of years now, I’m what many would call an expert when it comes to the language. Unfortunately, my development is a tad slower than what I would like because of PHP’s enormous capabilities. I’ve developed my own “framework,” that decreases my development time slightly, but it takes me awhile to dig through the hundreds of custom functions I have written to remember exactly which one I am looking for.

Code Igniter’s goal is to speed up PHP development, as well as making it easy – and I can honestly say it does an amazing job of doing exactly that. Sure, other PHP frameworks have come and gone in the past and there is always PEAR (although many web hosts aren’t very excited about you using it). Where Code Igniter stands out is it’s complete control of PHP and firm seperation into the Model-View-Control mindset.

With Code Igniter I have developed two complete websites, a web-based game and a social network, in less than three weeks. This would have normally taken me at least 6 weeks otherwise, probably more than 2 months. What I really love about Code Igniter is that it not only focuses on PHP, but on development as a whole. The Code Igniter team has a firm grasp of why people choose PHP and the type of applications we design, with this knowledge they’re goal is to make that development easier for us.

A powerful collection of classes will enable you to utilize trackbacks, XML-RPC, database connections, and sessions – even if you don’t know how to accomplish these tasks with straight PHP. A range of “helpers” makes working with directories, forms, XML, even cookies infinitely easier. A plugin system allows the community to get involved and submit their own code that can be of use to other developers.

Ultimately, the MVC (Model-View-Control) seperation is what has really turned me on to Code Igniter. My backend code is neatly organized, in a sensible manner that reflects it’s purpose and usage, more so than it’s standard flow within the end users browsing habits.

Code Igniter recently updated to version 1.1 Beta, which fixed a number of bugs and introduced a new calendaring class to assist in the creation and display of dynamic calendars. A quick read through the Code Igniter User Guide will give you a thorough understanding of the goals and capabilities of this framework and the Code Igniter Community Forums are a great source for extended assistance.

Crazy Stats Tracking – CrazyEgg


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CrazyEggPete has the blogosphere pretty hyped about upcoming stats tracker CrazyEgg and understandably so – just check out the overlay and heatmap images!

First, let me go ahead and say I have not used CrazyEgg myself so I’m not to sharp on all of their features (hint, hint: send me an invite :) ). My one concern is whether or not CrazyEgg has anything else to offer in addition to the click tracking. If all CrazyEgg does is track where users click on-screen, this makes it a mildly useful tool for the designers out there, as well as a beautiful piece of flipmeat for Google’s Analytics crew or the folks over at Mint. If CrazyEgg has added a solid collection of statistics tracking features within this package I can see this becoming the defacto solution, definitely giving Mint a run for it’s money.

One of the most impressive bits I have seen come from CrazyEgg is that it tracks actual location on screen of each click – not just the element clicked. Using their heatmap you can give a quick glance and determine whether you can afford to shorten that login submission button by 50 pixels or if numerous people are confusing an image on site as a link. This could prove extremely useful in testing different AdSense positions!

Either way, the beauty of accomplishing a task like this – all in a small bit of Javascript – is amazing. Congratulations to CrazyEgg for making an excellent application, now to turn it into an excellent business!

Web 2.0 – Yawn…


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So the past few days have been quite here, simply because Web 2.0 is drastically boring. Here’s a rundown of the big news and why you shouldn’t care:

  • TechCrunch Gets Google Calendar Screenshots: Everyone knew Google was making a Calendar and we all knew Mike would get the jump on any info – he always does. These screenshots aren’t very interesting, I have a desk calendar designed by the Air Force with the same pastel blues. Google’s not stomping any new ground here either – 30boxes, CalendarHub, Planzo, SpongeCell. Google should have just acquired 30boxes and released this months ago – it’s old, it’s tired, it’s not innovative.
  • Yahoo has announced four new APIs for it’s developer network: Photos, Calendar, MyWeb, and Shopping. Good job, you’re only months late and your APIs are so hideously inundated with branding that no one uses them. Next?

Why are all of the big names developing technology extremely late in the game? They have the money to simply buy the best there is to offer. Why are all of the true innovators out there just copying one another? Popist, Flagr, Eyespot – all received a lot of attention this week for copying something someone else did. Maybe they’ll do it better than the group prior, we’ll see.

NyxzoeAlso, Pete Cashmore had a simple idea that I am going to run with. Social networks are currently the rage, with teenagers and overzealous big media. I’m going to head the aSmallWorld route and get cranking on a exlusive social network focused on the high school market. After discussing the idea with my beta testers (read: younger sister and her friends) they were all rather curious, and my mockup website only fueled that curiosity. I’ll feature more on this development as it comes around.

Netvibes Updates In The Works


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I have written on Netvibes recently, specifically their work on creating an API (albeit later than their competitors). Today, Francois from the Netvibes team gave me a quick preview of what’s coming soon for Netvibes: iCal support and the mini API.

There’s really not a whole lot to say on the iCal support, other than it works just as you would expect. You give the widget an iCal URL, date format, time format, and the number of events you would like to retrieve at a time and it takes care of the rest.

The real news coming from this session is the Netvibes mini API, if you could call it that. The best way to explain the Netvibes mini API is it acts as an iframe on the page. You select the Mini API widget, enter the URL to the custom widget you want, and it’s added to your Netvibes page.

The choice to make widget developers host their widgets on their own server is a unique one. On one hand you will see a faster development to release cycle, but you risk availability, marketing, and overall quality by not having some sort of submission method in place. Hopefully Netvibes will develop a strong “third-party to first-party” program allowing widget developers to get their creations hosted on the Netvibes servers and available directly within the content addition window.

The process of creating your own widget based on the Netvibes mini API is very simple in fact, for an experienced web developer. A Netvibes widget is nothing more than an XHTML 1.0 Strict webpage – that’s it! Of course, if you want to offer any sort of decent functionality you’ll need to work a little (insert your favorite server-side language here) magic. Netvibes also offers a standard CSS file as well as some Javascript to ensure a consistent design throughout all of the widgets.

The develop cycle looks fairly easy and based on the popularity of Netvibes within this niche, one can only assume this developer community will build quickly and offer a lot of great features to the Netvibes interface. You can give a test run of both of these features on Netvibes’ preview server.

iBegin Launches, But Is It Enough?


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iBeginI received a beta invitation to test iBegin about one month ago, but was immediately dissappointed in their service and could never build up the desired level of animosity to write a “First Look” for them. Luckily enough for iBegin a lot of others did take an active role in the beta test and they have turned their service 180-degrees in the oppposite direction.

iBegin is a local search engine, currently only Toronto is supported, that simply does local search right. The front page is focused on search, much in the way Google’s home page is – there’s nothing there to distract you from what you intend to do. Varying query types allow you to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for, no more searching for “Library” and finding that obscure nightclub across town named “The Library.” A quick toggle between listing view and map view allows you to take location into account.

iBegin is a great local search engine, if you live in Toronto, otherwise you’re screwed. This is my only fault with iBegin – their strictly Web 1.0 release method. The majority of iBegin’s listings are provided by the users themselves – take the popular (and successful) route and launch all city’s now and let the users make your search better.

Netvibes API, Psuedo-Launch


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Netvibes, a personalized home page I wrote about previously, has somewhat hinted at the release of what they call a “mini API.”

From the Netvibes Blog:

If you are a developer and want to build your own mini module on netvibes, you can join our api mailing list by sending us a request at netvibes_api @ netvibes.Com

You don’t need to be an expert to build something, basic HTML knowledge is just enough to make your own modules.

I’m not very impressed with how this API launch is taking place thus far. Netvibes hasn’t been well known for their developer support in the past, in fact it’s been non-existent – at least this is a step (a small one) in the right direction. Unfortunately, dictating that those interested must join a mailing list isn’t the right way to go about this. Shouldn’t an effective API launch include a lot of hype, a few examples, and way to get your “widgets” into the application as quickly as possible? Even the Netvibes Wiki lacks any information on the API launch.

Finally, why do companies insist on touting how easy it is to write your own widgets? “You can do it with simply HTML, no programming knowledge needed!” I see a rash is starting to break out on my arm… I must be allergic to bullshit! Yes, technically you could write a widget in only HTML (”Hi, I wrote this widget, it shows the Google logo – it’s l33t!”), but no one would use it. A widget requires programming knowledge to do anything useful, if it’s not useful it probably won’t even make it beyond the submission form.

And would people with no programming experience even care to make an attempt at writing their own widget? Do they know what a widget is?

News Corp Targets Web 2.0


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Web 2.0 has announced they have purchased a new property, as well as their ability to purchase up to five more top Web 2.0 brands. They have yet to say which company they have purchased, except that they were present at and it was not MySpace competitor Tagged. This leaves one of the following 31 companies:

| | | | | | | Eurekster | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

My bet is on BubbleShare, TailRank, or Zvents. Both BubbleShare and Zvents could provide an increased featureset for News Corp’s Internet King, MySpace.com, whereas TailRank could provide an entirely new service to the News Corp roster as well as a large user population.