Friday, 31 August 2012

Use Facebook Chat without opening Facebook.com

Learn how to use Facebook chat from the desktop without being on the Facebook.com website. Other than your desktop, you can also use Facebook chat from the browser or your mobile phone.
Facebook Chat lets you instantly start text and video conversations with your Facebook friends without installing any IM software but the only issue is that you need to be on the Facebook.com website in order to use Facebook chat.
Here are tools that will let you chat on Facebook from anywhere without even having to open the Facebook site in your browser.

Facebook Chat Inside the Web Browser

If you have Google Chrome or Prism for Firefox, you can open this address in your browser address bar and then create an application shortcut to Facebook chat on your desktop.
Firefox users may bookmark the above link and set the “Load this bookmark in Sidebar” property to true in order to use Facebook chat from the Firefox sidebar.
If you an IE user or hate to use Facebook chat from the sidebar, try Gabtastik – this is a minimal desktop client for Facebook that looks exactly like the web version of Facebook chat but will also send you notifications of new messages and chat requests from the system tray.
Meebo, the very awesome web based instant messaging service, now supports Facebook chat as well. You can connect your Facebook account with meebo via the Facebook Connect service (so there’s no need to share your Facebook credentials with anyone) and instantly chat with your online buddies inside the web browser.
There are two advantages here – you can use Facebook chat even if the main Facebook.com site is blocked in your office and two, you can simultaneously connect with friends on other IM networks from the same website.

Facebook Chat Clients for your Desktop

facebook messenger
ChitChat – If Facebook were to develop a standalone messenger on the lines of Yahoo! or Google Talk, it might look something like ChitChat.
ChitChat is a Windows-only desktop client for Facebook that provides a tabbed window to make it easy for you to talk to may friends at once. It will also show notifications in the tray when your friends go online or when they have signed out. The application is in RC stage so expect a few bugs.
digsby for facebook
Digsby – This is again a very useful all-in-one app that helps you stay up to date with everything happening on your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, LinkedIn and other online accounts.
If you have multiple accounts on Facebook (like you and your spouse), you can associate all of them with your Disgsby messenger and chat with the combined buddy list simultaneously. Facebook doesn’t allow audio or video calls but Digsby indirectly brings that feature to Facebook Chat via tokbox.
Adium – If you are on Mac, Adium is probably the best choice for you to chat with Facebook friends from the desktop.
Like Pidgin and Digsby, Adium too supports multiple IM networks, including Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, AOL AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Skype, Twitter and Jabber (XMPP). And it uses the same Facebook Chat plugin that is available for Pidgin users on Google Code.
pidgin with facebook chat
Pidgin – While Facebook Chat is not officially supported in Pidgin, there’s a free plug-in that lets you connect to the Facebook chat server from Pidgin. And like Digsby, Pidgin too would let you chat with buddies on multiple Facebook accounts from the same interface.
Pidgin vs Digsby – Pidgin is purely for instant messaging while Digsby will also display notifications like when a friends sends you a message using Facebook email or if he or she writes something on your Facebook wall. Some people in the comments say that even Pidgin displays notifications but at least that doesn’t work in Windows 7.
Pidgin will show all your Facebook contacts in one giant list (see update) while Digsby will group contacts under logical “Friends list” just the way you have them on the main facebook.com site. Update: The new version of Facebook Chat plugin for Pidgin displays your online friends under groups just like Pidgin.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The 101 Most Useful Websites of 2012


The 101 Most Useful Websites on the Internet is a frequently updated list of lesser-known but wonderful websites and cool web apps.
Presenting the 101 most useful websites of 2012. These sites, well most of them, solve at least one problem really well and they all have simple web addresses (URLs) that you can memorize thus saving you a trip to Google.

The Most Useful Websites and Web Apps

  1. screenr.com – record movies of your desktop and send them straight to YouTube.
  2. ctrlq.org/screenshots – for capturing screenshots of web pages on mobile and desktops.
  3. goo.gl – shorten long URLs and convert URLs into QR codes.
  4. unfurlr.come – find the original URL that’s hiding behind a short URL.
  5. qClock – find the local time of a city using a Google Map.
  6. copypastecharacter.com – copy special characters that aren’t on your keyboard.
  7. postpost.com – a better search engine for twitter.
  8. lovelycharts.com – create flowcharts, network diagrams, sitemaps, etc.
  9. iconfinder.com – the best place to find icons of all sizes.
  10. office.com – download templates, clipart and images for your Office documents.
  11. followupthen.com – the easiest way to setup email reminders.
  12. jotti.org – scan any suspicious file or email attachment for viruses.
  13. wolframalpha.com – gets answers directly without searching   – see more wolfram tips.
  14. printwhatyoulike.com – print web pages without the clutter.
  15. joliprint.com – reformats news articles and blog content as a newspaper.
  16. ctrql.org/rss – a search engine for RSS feeds.
  17. e.ggtimer.com – a simple online timer for your daily needs.
  18. coralcdn.org – if a site is down due to heavy traffic, try accessing it through coral CDN.
  19. random.org – pick random numbers, flip coins, and more.
  20. pdfescape.com – lets you can quickly edit PDFs in the browser itself.
  21. viewer.zoho.com – Preview PDFs and Presentations directly in the browser.
  22. tubemogul.com – simultaneously upload videos to YouTube and other video sites.
  23. ctrlq.org/dictation – online voice recognition in the browser itself.
  24. scr.im – share you email address online without worrying about spam.
  25. spypig.com – now get read receipts for your email.
  26. sizeasy.com – visualize and compare the size of any product.
  27. myfonts.com/WhatTheFont – quickly determine the font name from an image.
  28. google.com/webfonts – a good collection of open source fonts.
  29. regex.info – find data hidden in your photographs – see more EXIF tools.
  30. livestream.com – broadcast events live over the web, including your desktop screen.
  31. iwantmyname.com – helps you search domains across all TLDs.
  32. homestyler.com – design from scratch or re-model your home in 3d.
  33. join.me – share you screen with anyone over the web.
  34. onlineocr.net – recognize text from scanned PDFs – see other OCR tools.
  35. flightstats.com – Track flight status at airports worldwide.
  36. wetransfer.com – for sharing really big files online.
  37. hundredzeros.com – the site lets you download free Kindle books.
  38. polishmywriting.com – check your writing for spelling or grammatical errors.
  39. marker.to – easily highlight the important parts of a web page for sharing.
  40. typewith.me – work on the same document with multiple people.
  41. whichdateworks.com – planning an event? find a date that works for all.
  42. everytimezone.com – a less confusing view of the world time zones.
  43. gtmetrix.com – the perfect tool for measuring your site performance online.
  44. noteflight.com – print music sheets, write your own music online.
  45. imo.im – chat with your buddies on Skype, Facebook, Google Talk, etc. from one place.
  46. translate.google.com – translate web pages, PDFs and Office documents.
  47. kleki.com – create paintings and sketches with a wide variety of brushes.
  48. similarsites.com – discover new sites that are similar to what you like already.
  49. wordle.net – quick summarize long pieces of text with tag clouds.
  50. bubbl.us – create mind-maps, brainstorm ideas in the browser.
  51. kuler.adobe.com – get color ideas, also extract colors from photographs.
  52. liveshare.com – share your photos in an album instantly.
  53. lmgtfy.com – when your friends are too lazy to use Google on their own.
  54. midomi.com – when you need to find the name of a song.
  55. bing.com/images – automatically find perfectly-sized wallpapers for mobiles.
  56. faxzero.com – send an online fax for free – see more fax services.
  57. feedmyinbox.com – get RSS feeds as an email newsletter.
  58. ge.tt – quickly send a file to someone, they can even preview it before downloading.
  59. pipebytes.com – transfer files of any size without uploading to a third-party server.
  60. tinychat.com – setup a private chat room in micro-seconds.
  61. privnote.com – create text notes that will self-destruct after being read.
  62. boxoh.com – track the status of any shipment on Google Maps – alternative.
  63. chipin.com – when you need to raise funds online for an event or a cause.
  64. downforeveryoneorjustme.com – find if your favorite website is offline or not?
  65. ewhois.com – find the other websites of a person with reverse Analytics lookup.
  66. whoishostingthis.com – find the web host of any website.
  67. google.com/history – found something on Google but can’t remember it now?
  68. aviary.com/myna – an online audio editor that lets record, and remix audio clips online.
  69. disposablewebpage.com – create a temporary web page that self-destruct.
  70. urbandictionary.com – find definitions of slangs and informal words.
  71. seatguru.com – consult this site before choosing a seat for your next flight.
  72. sxc.hu – download stock images absolutely free.
  73. zoom.it – view very high-resolution images in your browser without scrolling.
  74. scribblemaps.com – create custom Google Maps easily.
  75. alertful.com – quickly setup email reminders for important events.
  76. picmonkey.com – Picnik is offline but PicMonkey is an even better image editor.
  77. formspring.me – you can ask or answer personal questions here.
  78. sumopaint.com – an excellent layer-based online image editor.
  79. snopes.com – find if that email offer you received is real or just another scam.
  80. typingweb.com – master touch-typing with these practice sessions.
  81. mailvu.com – send video emails to anyone using your web cam.
  82. timerime.com – create timelines with audio, video and images.
  83. stupeflix.com – make a movie out of your images, audio and video clips.
  84. safeweb.norton.com – check the trust level of any website.
  85. teuxdeux.com – a beautiful to-do app that looks like your paper dairy.
  86. deadurl.com – you’ll need this when your bookmarked web pages are deleted.
  87. minutes.io – quickly capture effective notes during meetings.
  88. youtube.com/leanback – Watch YouTube channels in TV mode.
  89. youtube.com/disco – quickly create a video playlist of your favorite artist.
  90. talltweets.com – Send tweets longer than 140 characters.
  91. pancake.io – create a free and simple website using your Dropbox account.
  92. builtwith.com – find the technology stack of any website.
  93. woorank.com – research a website from the SEO perspective.
  94. mixlr.com – broadcast live audio over the web.
  95. radbox.me – bookmark online videos and watch them later.
  96. tagmydoc.com – add QR codes to your documents and presentations.
  97. notes.io – the easiest way to write short text notes in the browser.
  98. ctrlq.org/html-mail – send rich-text mails to anyone, anonymously.
  99. fiverr.com – hire people to do little things for $5.
  100. otixo.com – easily manage your online files on Dropbox, Google Docs, etc.
  101. ifttt.com – create a connection between all your online accounts.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Why is Facebook so Blue in Color?

Why is everything so blue about the Facebook website right from the sign-up page to the icons, the chat windows and even the site pop-ups that have shades of blue.
The original design of Facebook, when it was called thefacebook.com and you were required to have an .edu email address to even open an account on Facebook, was blue in color. The new Facebook which has close to a billion members is also mostly blue.First its name was the facebook.
Original Facebook Blue
The design of original Facebook – thefacebook.com – was blue
Blue Facebook website
The new Facebook website design is also blue

Why is Facebook Blue in Color

Facebook has gone through some major redesigns in the past few years but one part that has more or less stayed the same in all those years is the site’s blue color.
Everything is so blue about Facebook right from the sign-up page to the logo, their mobile app and even the site pop-ups that have shades of blue. Why?
New Yorker story on Mark Zuckerberg explains why Facebook is all blue in color. It says the young Facebook founder is color blind but can see blue:
Colors don’t matter much to Zuckerberg; a few years ago, he took an online test and realized that he was red-green color-blind. Blue is Facebook’s dominant color, because, as he said, “blue is the richest color for me – I can see all of blue.”

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Introducing Secure Passwords

Learn how to create unique and strong passwords for your online accounts using the secure bcrypt algorithm. And you don’t have to store passwords anywhere.
You want to create lengthy, complicated and unique passwords for every website that you use but that rarely happens in practice because complex passwords are impossible for anyone to remember.
Some people rely on password management software like LastPass or KeePass that store all your passwords in an encrypted database which is then protected by a single master password. You enter the master password and you instantly have access to all your stored user logins and passwords.
Unique Passwords
Set unique passwords for all your web accounts but remember just one pass phrase

A Unique Password for Every Website

Here’s an alternate solution that I initially created for internal use. The tool is called Secure Passwords and it generate unique and strong passwords  for your various web accounts using using the secure bcrypt algorithm.
The advantages are that your passwords aren’t stored anywhere, the passwords are hashed using bcrypt (irreversible) and all you have to do is remember is one master pass phrase.  The password generator works on both desktop and mobile screens. You can also download the tool from Github as a ZIP file and run it offline on a USB drive or upload it to Dropbox.
To get started, enter your user name (or login id), the site’s domain name (e.g. google or facebook), your master password and hit the generate button. The tool will instantly create a unique password based on your input and it will always generate the same password for that set of parameters.

How Secure are my Passwords?

The passwords are impossible to guess as they are made of digits, special characters and letters in mixed-case. The passwords are generated using bcrypt which is still resistant to brute-force attacks and therefore it will be impossible for anyone to decrypt the master pass phrase should any of password ever gets leaked online.
Also, the tool computes passwords in your web browser itself and not a single byte of data is transmitted elsewhere. You can browse the full source code at Github.com and, if you know a bit of programming, modify the code even further to suit your requirements

Monday, 27 August 2012

Access Facebook on any Mobile Without the Internet


You can now use Facebook on any mobile phone without GPRS or the Internet. You can chat with Facebook friends, send messages, add friends and more.
Do you have an old mobile phone, like the Nokia 1100, that has no browser and can do little more than make phone calls? Or are you stuck in some remote place where there’s no Internet or no other form of data (EGDE/GPRS/3G) connectivity is available?
Not a problem. You can still use your Facebook account in India by dialing *325# (or *fbk#) from your mobile phone – this service requires no data plan or Internet and it will even work on phones of the Stone Age. Here’s a quick tour:
        

Use Facebook without the Data Plan-

Facebook India has partnered with Fonetwish to bring Facebook on every mobile phone without requiring any apps or even the Internet.
You dial the *325# number, then enter your Facebook username and password and you are in. You can then send number based commands to access various features of Facebook, chat with friends who are online, add new people to your friends list, and more.
I played with the service for some time and it was a nice experience overall. If there were a Unix-like shell interface for Facebook, it would be much similar. Fonetwish says that this service is currently available for Airtel, Aircel, Idea and Tata Docomo users in India.
It may be too much work to read your Facebook news feed stories one by one but this is a good option to quickly update your Facebook status or for chatting with friends who are online. The price is reasonable too – you just have pay a subscription fee of 1.00 per day for unlimited usage.
Related: If you have an old mobile phone, you can search Google by SMS without requiring a data plan.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

An Alternate Way to Write Long Tweets on Twitter


Want to write tweets longer than 140 characters? If you can convert your text into a 317×317 image, people can read your image-based message inside Twitter itself.
If you are to ever write a tweet that’s longer than 140 characters, you have a couple of options. You can either split the message into multiple tweets or you can use a service like post.ly that not only lets you compose essay-style messages but you may also attach documents, pictures and other files to your tweets.
I wish to share one more idea here.
Twitter has recently rolled out the picture uploads feature to all accounts worldwide. What that means is you can include an image with your tweet and your followers, or anyone else who sees that tweet, can view the content of that picture inline without having to leave the Twitter website.
The idea is that if you can convert your “long text” into a 317×317 image, people can read your message inside Twitter itself like in the following screenshot. And this works on mobile phones too.
Almost any photo editing tool – even Paint – can be used to create a text based images but remember to use the PNG or GIF image formats while saving these images.

Looking for Music You’ve Never Heard Before?

Learn how to find similar songs, music albums and bands based on your current favorite music, genre or artists who you already love listening to. You can even use YouTube as music discovery engine.

Find New Music Based on Music That You Like Already


There are numerous web services that are designed to help you expand your musical collection in a smart way. They can read your music taste and can then suggest songs, artists and genres similar to the ones that you already love listening to.
Following are some of the best services that can recommend you new music based on what you like already. And since every service uses a different algorithm, they are all worth exploring as you’ll then have a much larger collection of songs and music artists to choose from.

Last.fm Music

Last.fm – One of the first services to recommend music based what you listen to, Last.fm uses their extensive database of user preferences to recommend new songs and artists to you. If you like listening to Artist X and ten other Last.fm users who listen to X have listed Artist Y as their favorite, chances are that you’ll also like Y.
You can download Last.fm’s program on your computer (or iPod Touch) and it will track the songs that you play the most using any of popular media players. It will then suggest you similar music that you can listen to through Last.fm streaming stations – it’s free in the US and UK and รข‚¬3 per month elsewhere.
Other than desktop offerings, you can also type the name of your favorite band or song on Last.fm’s website to discover similar artists who you may like as well.

Pandora Internet Radio

Pandora Backstage – Pandora is one of the best known sites for Internet Radio and though it is only available in the United States, anyone in the world can use Pandora to discover similar songs, artists and music albums with a click.
Unlike Last.fm which primarily uses user preferences to find similar songs, Pandora uses the sophisticated Music Genome project where trained music analysts analyze hundreds of characteristics of a song to find other similar and compatible songs.

Grooveshark Radio

Grooveshark offers a beautiful web-based application where you can not only listen to music but also find related songs instantly without even creating an account.
It works like this. You search for your favorites songs and add them to the playlist. Then, click the Radio button and it will automatically add related songs to your playlist based on songs that you already added. If you don’t like a particular suggestion, you can remove that song from the playlist and Grooveshark will try to find another song you might like.

Live Plasma for Music

One of the more innovative ways for exploring music, liveplasma.com generates a bubble graph of other artists who are similar to your favorite band. Simply enter the name of a song or artist you like, and liveplasma will automatically find related artists.
The size of a bubble varies with popularity and the closer a bubble is to your favorite band /artist, that greater the chances are that you’ll like it.

Glue

Glue is a relatively new recommendation engine that is designed to help you find new books, movies, and music based on ones you already like. Enter the name of an artist (or a music album) and Glue will show you similar albums from the same artist.

Tip: Use YouTube to Find Similar Songs

You can not only find a copy of almost every song and music video on YouTube but the other great thing about this video sharing site is that it works great a music discovery engine as well.
Just search for any song on YouTube and then expand the “Related Videos” section in the sidebar to find other music that you may also enjoy listening to. Not all “related videos” may be relevant and some of them may not be music videos at all but you’ll still discover lot of good stuff worth listening to through this technique.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Know If Strangers Can See Your Facebook Photos

If you have uploaded some private photos on Facebook thinking that only friends can view those photos, here’s something you should know.

If you have uploaded some private photos on Facebook thinking that only friends can view those photos, here’s something you should know (and check).
Some of your photo albums on Facebook may even be visible to people who aren’t connected to you on Facebook. For instance, I am no friend of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg but I can still see some of his photo albums on Facebook though they aren’t immediately visible on his profile page at facebook.com/wikiboogle.
How Your Facebook Photo Albums Become Visible to Strangers
This 60-seconds long video screen cast demonstrates how your personal photos on Facebook can become visible to strangers.
Step 1. Log in to your Facebook account and open the profile page of any Facebook user whose pictures you want to see. Alternatively, you may use the search feature in Facebook to directly open the profile of any person.
Step 2. Copy the following line of code to the clipboard and then paste it into the address bar of your web browser where that Facebook page is open.
javascript:(function(){CSS.removeClass(document.body,%20'profile_two_columns'); tab_controller.changePage("photos");})()
If that person has previously shared any of her photo albums or profile pictures on Facebook using the default privacy settings, their albums might show up on your screen as well.
The photo albums won’t appear on their regular Facebook profile page but as soon as you copy-paste that simple code, the results might sometimes surprise you.
What’s the fix?
To make sure that none of your Facebook photo albums are visible to strangers, create a dummy account on Facebook, open your profile page and then copy-paste the same code. If you see the following message, consider yourself safe:
There are no photos to display. Photos of may not have been tagged, or may not be visible due to privacy.
To prevent your Facebook pictures from showing up on the screens of strangers, go to this page – facebook.com/privacy – and set the privacy option of every photo album, that you want to hide from the world, to either “Only Friends” or a select group.
The default privacy setting, when you create a new photo album, is “everyone” – most people don’t change the defaults and that’s why their photos can get exposed through the above JavaScript hack.



Now Turn Your Twitter in to a Gmail Notifier


You can follow your Gmail Inbox on Twitter and then receive SMS text alerts for new Gmail messages on your mobile phone.
I am ready to share a little project around Gmail that I have been working on this weekend. The idea is that you can turn your Twitter Timeline into a Gmail Notifier and get notified (via tweets) as soon as new email messages arrive in your mailbox.
And since you can link Twitter to your phone number, you can even get SMS text alerts for new Gmail messages on your mobile phone with the help of Twitter. There’s no programming required and you can be up and running in 5 minutes.

Connect Gmail and Twitter through Google Docs

Gmail provide an RSS feed of your mailbox but the big problem is that if you have to auto-publish this RSS feed to Twitter, you’ll have to supply your Google account credentials in plain text. That’s not done.
My solution (see source code) uses OAuth with Google Apps Script to link your Gmail and Twitter accounts so you don’t have to share your passwords with anyone.  You have a Google Docs spreadsheet that monitors your Gmail mailbox in the background, say, every 5 minutes. As soon as it finds any new message(s) in your mailbox, it sends out a tweet using your own Twitter app. That’s the overall picture but  here’s how you can implement it:

Step A: Create a new Twitter App for Gmail

1.                   Go to twitter.com/signup and create a new Twitter account for your Gmail Inbox – mine is called myGmailInbox.
2.                  Confirm your email address, then open the Twitter settings page and check the option “Protect My Tweets” and uncheck the option “Let others find me by my email address.” This is necessary because you don’t want search engines, or any other Twitter user, to see your Gmail tweets even if the tweets will only have the message subject.
3.                  Go to dev.twitter.com, sign-in using your new Twitter account and use the following values to create a New Twitter App. [Name=Gmail; Description=Gmail Bot; Website=http://goo.gl/ldAXX; Callback URL=https://spreadsheets.google.com/macros]
4.                  Make sure there are no empty spaces in the URL fields else Twitter may give an “Invalid URL format” warning. Accept the terms and conditions, fill in the CAPTCHA and submit the form to create your first Twitter application.
5.                   Next go to the Settings Tab of your Twitter Application and change the “Access” mode from “Read only” to “Read and Write” since we want to publish tweets from Google Docs.
6.                  Save the Settings, then switch to the tab that says O Auth Tool and make a note of the Consumer Key and the Consumer Secret Key.

Step B: Link Google Docs and Twitter

1.                   Go to Google Docs and make a copy of this spreadsheet in your own Docs account.
2.                  From Tools –> Script Editor, replace the values of TWITTER_CONSUMER_KEY and TWITTER_CONSUMER_SECRET with their actual values.
3.                  Go to Resources –> Current Script’s triggers and create a new Time-driven event for “sendTweet” that triggers every 5 minutes.
4.                  Save the trigger and then click Authorize (Grant Access) so that this script can automatically read your Gmail inbox at set intervals to check for new mails.
5.                   Go to Run –> SendTweet and it should display another “Authorization Required” message from Twitter. Click Authorize –> Authorize App to allow Google Apps Script publish tweets to your Twitter Gmail account.

Step C: Follow Gmail on Twitter

1.                   Log in to your old Twitter account and send a follow request to your new Gmail account on Twitter.
2.                  Log in to your new Gmail account and approve the “follow request.”
3.                  And we are done. You should now see tweets for new Gmail messages, as they arrive, in your main timeline.

Get SMS Alerts for New Gmail

Should you wish to receive SMS alerts on your mobile phone for new Gmail messages, just open the Twitter profile page of your Gmail bot and turn on Mobile Notifications. This will obviously work only if you have connected (and verified) your mobile phone with your main Twitter account.
One more thing. In the default setup, the Google Script watches your Gmail Inbox for all incoming mails and tweets as soon as it encounters any new messages in the mailbox.
If this results in too many tweets (or SMS text messages), you can specify a different mail and thus receive notifications only for messages that you care about. You need to change the value of GMAIL_SEARCH_STRING in line #18.



Thursday, 23 August 2012

Block Useless Websites from your Google Search Results

Do you see spam or useless websites in your Google search results? Here are some tips to help you permanently block such websites from showing up in your Google results.
Google has been getting better at identifying and removing spam websites from their search results pages but sometimes not-so-useful sites do manage to slip through the Google filters. What can you do to prevent such sites from appearing in your Google results?
Approach #1: Block Sites at the Browser Level 
Google offers an easy-to-use Chrome add-on called Personal Blocklist that lets you block entire web domains from showing up in your Google search results. If you spot any irrelevant website in search results pages, just click the block link (screenshot below) and all pages from that website will be hidden from your Google results forever

Block Websites from appearing in your Google Search Results
The Chrome add-on implements client-side filtering – the blocked websites are still getting served in Google search results as before and the add-on simply hides them on your screen using CSS.
A limitation with this approach is that it works only inside Google Chrome. That is, if you are searching Google inside Firefox or maybe on your mobile phone, the site filters that you have created in Chrome won’t be available to you.
Approach #2: Block Sites per Google Account 
Google also offers a web dashboard for manually blocking spam websites, one URL at a time. You can add up to 500 different websites to your blocked list and Google won’t show pages from any of the included sites provided you are signed in with your Google account. That’s the promise but unfortunately, this solution doesn’t seem to work anymore.
Approach #3: Google Search with a Global Filter
If you would like to create a “global  filter”  for your Google search results that works inside all browsers including mobile devices, you can make use of Google’s Custom Search (CSE).
CSE, if you are new, is Google except that it is meant for searching a smaller set of websites and not the entire Internet. Now here’s a little trick. You can do a reverse configuration such that Google CSE searches the entire Internet except the websites that you think are useless. Here’s how you can set it up in 2 minutes.
Step #1 (optional): Assuming that you have been blocking websites using the Personal Blocklist add-on in Chrome, click the BlockList icon in your Google Chrome toolbar and choose “Export” to download the list of all sites that you have blocked so far.
Step #2: Click here to create a Custom Search Engine. Give it a name, description and in the “Sites to Search” section, enter all the popular TLDs (like *.com, *.org, etc) one per line.
Whitelist all the popular top-level domains like .com, .org, etc.
Step #3: Click Next to save the changes. You’ll have an option to test your CSE. Click Next again and on this screen, click the link that says “Include more sites.” This is where you’ll enter the list of “bad” websites the should be blocked in Google Search Results.
Choose Exclude Sites -> Exclude Sites in Bulk and enter all the domains that should be removed from your Google search results. You can even copy-paste your Chrome Block list here. Save the changes and your “clean” Google search engine is ready.
[*] If you would like your Google search engine to search all known TLDs and not just the popular ones, go to the Manage Search Engine page inside Google CSE and change the “How to search included sites” option from “Search only included sites” to “Search the entire web but emphasize included sites.”

Filter the less-useful websites from your Google Results
Google CSE results are as relevant as the main Google web search engine and the layout looks good on mobiles and tablets as well. The only manual work you will have to do going forward is to keep the Chrome block list and the CSE exclude list in sync with each other.


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

can google employees read your email


All your private and confidential emails are stored in your Gmail mailbox but are they secure? Can a Google employee working on the Gmail product read your messages?
In theory, the answer could be yes. Christopher Nguyen, who was earlier responsible for Google Apps operations at Google, shared this on Quora:
A small number of GMail related engineers have access to the servers as a matter of necessity to do their jobs; a very small number of people actually access the contents as a matter of necessity to do their jobs, and even then, almost always only the associated metadata.
The rest have to file a request and justify any access they ever need, which is extremely rare. All have to sign paperwork re users’ privacy at the risk of dismissal & legal action, knowing that whatever they do is discoverable. And ultimately, an internal culture of respecting users’ privacy helps keep one another in check.
Google also serves contextual text ads in Gmail and these ads are triggered based on the content of the email message that your currently reading. Obviously it is the bots that are scanning your Gmail messages for relevant keywords but Microsoft, with a hope that some Gmail users will shift to Hotmail, is using this point to target Google on privacy.
Some email services, like Gmail, actually read the contents of your mail (both sent and received, even if you aren’t a Gmail user but just sending to someone who is) in order to decide what kind of ads to serve up to you. They may call it “scanning” and attempt to equate it with less invasive activities like “checking for spam” but it’s quite different. For you, and the people you send mail to, it’s not spam, it’s personal.
Microsoft has also released a video, titled the Gmail Man, highlighting this Gmail behavior. Microsoft uploaded the video to Youtube, a platform owned by Google, and it isn’t therefore surprising that the video has garnered more dislikes than likes – after all, most YouTube users are also Gmail users and they aren’t buying Microsoft’s argument.

Get A Read Receipt When Friends Open Your Email Message


A free email tracking that sends notification email when the recipient opens and reads your email. Works with Gmail, Outlook, AOL, Windows Live Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail

If you are using Microsoft Outlook with Exchange Server, you can easily request read receipts and get notified when your email is opened by the recipient(s).
As such a tracking feature in not available in web email like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or the new Windows Live Hotmail, here’s an extremely effective and free solution that works with every email program.
The service is called SpyPig and it will instantly send you a notification when your email is read by the recipient. The read receipt will also have other details like the IP address of the recipient and the exactly number of times he or she read your email.
Using SpyPig is simple – type your email address (where you wish to receive the notification) and they’ll give you a small tracking graphic that you have to embed in your outgoing Gmail message via a simple drag-n-drop (just like the Gmail Smileys). That’s it.
Now if you are worried about sharing your email address , read our previous email read receipt hack that shows you how to construct your own SpyPig kind of solution using Google Analytics or Statcounter.
The SpyPig trick however works only with Rich Text or HTML email, not plain text.







Monday, 20 August 2012

Export Phone Numbers of your Facebook Friends


Learn how you can easily export phone numbers and emails of Facebook friends and import them into Google Contacts or your mobile address book.
While there are workarounds that let you easily download all your Facebook data, including email addresses of your Facebook friends, one of the important pieces that you still can’t move out of Facebook is the phone book.
Most of your Facebook friends have put their phone numbers on their profile pages and you’ll love to import them to your mobile phone’s address book but unfortunately Facebook doesn’t offer an option to let you do so. There’s however a new Chrome extension that be of immense help here.
Called Facebook Friends Exporter, this extension will let you export phone numbers, email addresses (not just the primary address but all the other email addresses as well), IM screen names and website URLs of your Facebook contacts in a standard CSV file that you can quickly import into Outlook, Gmail or any other address book.
Alternatively, you may also choose to import your Facebook friends details directly into Gmail /Google Contacts without even having to use the CSV option.
Once you install the Facebook Friends Exporter extension in Chrome, it will add a new menu option called “Export Friends” to your Facebook.com. Click that link and it will begin parsing the profile pages of all your Facebook friends one-by-one.
It takes about 10 minutes to extract details of 50 friends so you might want to take a break if you are connected with a large number of people on Facebook. Also, Facebook doesn’t like if you visit more than 60 profile pages in under 60 minutes so this extension will automatically pause after that limit is reached and then resumes from where it left off.
This is an open-source extension so you pretty much know what’s happening behind the scenes but it may not play down well with the the Facebook TOS that discourages web scraping – “You will not collect users’ content or information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without our permission.”
The extension is undoubtedly useful and works as advertised but use at your own risk. Also, once details are available in a CSV file, you can import it into Google Contacts and use the the “Find Duplicates” option to merge the similar entries.

What it takes to be a Facebook India Ambassador


Convince your friends and family members to use Facebook on their mobile phones and you could be promoted as an Ambassador of Facebook India.
Facebook has introduced a new Ambassador program in India to promote the usage of Facebook on mobile phones in the country.
The requirements are simple and everyone can participate. You are supposed to convince your friends to install the Facebook app on their mobile phones. Once the app is installed, your friend will also have to associate his or her mobile phone number with Facebook.
You can then pass on this list of phone numbers to Facebook India and users who bring the maximum number of conversions will be rewarded with the Facebook Ambassador status.
There’s no compensation involved and going forward, you may be required to promote Facebook in your school as stated in the TOS document.
If instructed by Facebook, you will engage in activities to promote Facebook.
Such activities may include working with your school administration to setup the authentic page for your school on Facebook, creating you college Yearbook on Facebook, uploading pictures of each class and tagged students in the pictures, organizing a Facebook Day on Campus that focuses on educating the audience about using Facebook on mobile devices, etc.
It also possible to use Facebook in India without a data plan but am not too sure if that will count as a valid entry for the Ambassadors program