Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Tips and tricks to make your job easier.

In Case You Missed It: The Droid Lawyer Connects Google Drive to Your Desktop

The cloud has changed the way we interact with the web—there’s no hyperbole in this statement. Mobile devices, private networks with shared data centers, the rise of apps, dynamic sites—all of these innovations were enabled by cloud computing. But, saving documents and files to a server somewhere out in the universe isn’t always as easy as ctrl-c and ctrl-v. Usability and navigation have always been some of the problems with cloud space storage because we have to ask a web interface to do the job of an operating system. The user can struggle through it, but usually the operations are clunky and slow. This all makes sense, users are accustomed to taking advantage of the full computing power of an operating system fine-tuned and devoted to file management—web-based software is going to be under-powered and clunky by comparison. Continue reading

Buying textbooks? Book.ly is the bomb!

With school back in session and the economy still in its rut, most students are sharing a similar concern.  How on earth are they going to be able to afford those pricey textbooks?  From living in closets to subsisting on ramen noodles, folks are desperate to lessen the pain of textbook buying.  Luckily, they have an ally in the fight.  Have you been to Book.ly?

Book.ly tags itself as “The Better Way to Buy Textbooks”.  They are certainly onto something hot and useful.  Using Book.ly, students can buy, rent, and even sell textbooks without the painful markup  of college bookstores.  In fact, the site currenty estimates that its users are saving about 60% on their book purchases!  That adds up to a VERY healthy savings when you consider how many books the average student purchases in just one school year!

Using Book.ly can hardly be easier.  You simply go to the site and search for either the book title or your school.  In it’s databanks, Book.ly has up-to-date syllabus information from over 1,500 colleges and universities!  Students can actually buy their books before they even have their syllabi in hand.  At the end of the semester, students can then use Book.ly to sell their books back for top dollar.  Talk about a total solution!

Book.ly is barely a year old, but has already attracted a huge fan base.  You can look at the main page to see just how much the students at particular colleges and universities have saved.  The leader board is impressive!  Best of all . . . it is not just for students.  Anyone can use Book.ly and reap its rewards.

Scheduling a mess? Untangle it with Tungle.me!

In today’s global society, scheduling meetings can be a real pain.  Technology has managed to make the world smaller thanks to video conferencing, virtual meeting spaces, and VoIP calling.  One thing it has not done is make it that much easier to get people together at one time, across time zones.  Luckily, Tungle.me is trying to change that.

What is Tungle.me?  Well, to quote their own tagline, Tungle.me is “scheduling made easy”.  Need to set up a conference call with colleagues in Caracas, besties in Beijing, and allies in Adelaide?  Don’t get tangled up trying to figure out time differences, let Tungle.me do it for you.  This site litreally makes scheduling meetings with folks far and wide a snap.  It accounts for time differences and brings diverse schedules together for you.  How?  By syncing with most major calendar applications.

An account on Tungle.me is free and easy to set up.  Once you sign up, you simply sync it with your calendar.  Tungle.me is currently compatible with Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple iCal, Entourage (Mac) and Lotus Notes.  It notes times that you are busy and available and displays them as such on your personal Tungle.me calendar page.  The details of your busy times remain comfortingly private.  Whether you are looking to plan or meeting or others are looking to propose one to you, it is simply a matter of choosing several open and available slots.  Tungle.me handles the communication, syncing of participants calendars, and sharing of details.  Talk about a time saver!  There are even Tungle.me apps for iPhone and Blackberry.  So it’s mobile too.

Tungle.me is not your typical calendar application.  In fact, it is not meant to be a calendar at all.  Rather it is designed to enhance “your existing calendar, giving it the flexibility and agility you need to easily schedule meetings with anyone, inside or outside your company, no matter what calendar type they’re using”.  Tungle.me puts your calendar on steroids and gets it to do some of the legwork for you.  The iBraryGuy team has tried it out and we were impressed.  Who says the best things in life aren’t free?

Google’s new URL shortener not short on features!

As if there were not already enough choices for shortening those long URLs, another one has launched.  And if it was not for the company launching it, we would probably not be paying it much attention.  But this is no run-of-the-mail-under-the-radar kind of unveiling.  This is Google’s new URL shortener, Goo.gl and it is not the least bit short on sweet features.

As we said, there are plenty of URL shorteners already on the market.  From the uber popular Bit.ly to the simple, yet customizable Doiop, they are a true godsend to anyone looking to save space and improve the aesthetic of long, complicated, and ugly URLs.  For tweeters especially, these tools are becoming ubiquitous.  To play in the URL shortening game today, a start-up has to bring something big to the table.  What the new Goo.gl brings is the backing of search behemoth Google, its bag of innovations and tricks, and a pretty tall promise to be the “stablest, most secure, and fastest URL shortener on the web.”  Can it live up the hype?

Released to the public today, Goo.glis easy to use.  Just like the other URL shorteners, you simply type or paste a long URL into the form and click on the “shorten” button.  Goo.gl will then compress that long link into something much shorter and more easily manageable.  In this respect, it is not much different than its myriad of competitors.  However, this is Google offspring we are talking about.  So you know that the features do not end there.

Sign in with your Gmail / iGoogle account information, and Goo.glbecomes your own URL shortening space.  It keeps track of all of the shortened URLs you create, complete with the original link, date created, and even the number of clicks it has spawned.  Sure, you are probably thinking that other shorteners do this too.  But let’s be honest.  None of them integrate with your Google presence.  If you are already using Gmail, Google Docs, or any of the growing suite of Google applications, this is just another feather in your cap.  Not to mention, there is already talk of Google integrating its new shortener with the power of its Analytics programs.  To be sure, ste standalone Goo.gl site is probably just the tip of the iceberg here.  You can bet that the competition is already be taking notice!

In the months ahead, it will be interesting to see what comes of Google’s latest offering.  In our opinion, it is already a more auspicious debut than that of Google Wave or even Buzz.  Give Goo.gl a try and let us know what you think!

Historious is bookmarking magic!

Bookmarking.  We all do it and it can be quite a burden.  For most of us, it is a constant process of selecting, organizing, tagging, reorganizing, retagging . . . well, you get the picture.  Bookmarking for most of us has been a great deal of work.  Thanks to Historious, it no longer has to be such a bear.

Historious is nothing short of bookmarking magic.  A few easy steps are all that stand between you and a searchable archive of your favorite sites.  It works something like this:

  • You find a site you like.
  • You bookmark it to Historious using a bookmarklet or browser extension.
  • You use Historious’ built-in search to recall the sites you have bookmarked.

Voila!  It could hardly be any easier.  Historious saves a copy of the site exactly as it exists when you bookmarked it.  This is perfect for those of us who like to bookmark particular stories.  You do not need to organize or tag your bookmarks as Historious takes care of all the indexing in the background.  It actually allows you to search the full text of the site you bookmarked.  So you may only a remember a few words or part of the title, but Historious will still find your site.  Try that with standard bookmarking applications!

Accounts on Historious are free.  You just need to register.  The bookmarklet is easy to install.  If you are using Google’s Chrome browser, there is a Historious extension that you can add to it.  You can even add Historious to your browser’s list of search sites.  Simple, elegant and powerful.  That is Historious.  We love it!

bde3a930c1034ceda4ec4fba4fc76d07

Google Follow Finder help you find the right tweeps!

There are many ways to find folks worth following on Twitter.  You can use any of the Twitter search engines to find people using specific hashtags or words, such as “#libraries” or librarianship.  You can follow specific Twitter lists, such as our own “Librariana” (http://twitter.com/iBraryGuy/librariana).  There are even sites such as WeFollow.com that are dedicated to classifying and ranking Twitter users.  Perhaps one of the easiest means of finding tweeters worth following, however, is to simply look at who is following the tweeps you already know and trust.  Google’s new Follow Finder aims to make that method of finding folks to follow even easier.

Using Follow Finder is as easy as entering the name of anyone Twitter.  For instance, you could search for “iBraryGuy” (no “@” required).  Click the search button and you will get results in two columns.  The first column, labeled “Tweeps You Might Like”, is a list of recommended Twitterers based on the tweeps whom the person you searched follows.  The second column, “Tweeps with Similar Followers”, actually looks at the relationships between the person searched and folks with similar lists of followers.  Sound confusing?  Follow along . . .

How Google arrives at that first list is interesting. Follow Finder compares the list of people the person for whom you searched follows, finds others with similar lists, and then identifies accounts you might also want to follow based on that comparison.  These are the “Tweeps You Might Want to Follow”.  In other words, if iBraryGuy follows Resource Shelf and other folks who also follow Resource Shelf additionally follow Read Write Web, Follow Finder will recommend Read Write Web to you.

The second list, “Tweeps with Similar Followers”, involves a similar comparison.  Only here Google is looking at the users who are following the person you searched.  So if you search iBraryGuy, Follow Finder looks at who is following us and then compares their lists of followers and makes recommendations to you based on recurring names.  Think of it as the flip side of the social coin.  When you enter a name into Follow Finder, it looks at both the folks whom that user follows and the folks that are following that user.

Google’s Follow Finder is a quick  and easy way to run a two-dimensional search for new Twitter users  worth following.  When we say quick, we literally mean that it takes split seconds to get your results.  And when we say easy, we might as well point out that Follow Finder even provides you with links under each name that allow you to simply click and follow.  It doesn’t get much easier!

Still in Google Labs, we look forward to seeing where this new search tool ends up in the long run!

Simply Hired revolutionizes the job hunt . . . simply!

In times likes these, job security is on everyone’s minds.  Unfortunately, for many, so is the job search.  The unemployment figures are staggering and competition for job vacancies is stiff.  Simply Hired is a beacon of hope in these difficult days.  Its simple, yet feature-rich suite of tools just might make finding that dream job a whole lot easier and more manageable!

The creators of Simply Hired had a single goal in mind – creating a single site where job seekers could easily search all jobs available on the web.  What resulted is no small feat to say the least!  Simply Hired aggregates job listings from thousands of websites including the leading job boards, company career sites, newspaper classifieds, non-profit sites, government sites, and more.  It’s an amazing one-stop-shop for job hunters!

Do not be fooled, however.  Simply Hired is more than just a job search.  The site packs in some great and unique features that make it stand out above similar job search sites.  Yes, you can search company names and job titles and even locales.  That is standard.  However, after you run your search, Simply Hired lets you filter the results with additional keywords or using special filters that focus on things like the Fortune 500.  Specialty searches are even offered to cover company qualities such as  mom-friendly, dog-friendly, eco-friendly, and GLBT friendly companies.  How cool is that?!?!  One of our favorite features allows you to link Simply Hired to your LinkedIn account.  Doing so will let you see who you may know at companies that are hiring.  Talk about a neat way to get a virtual foot in the door!

Accounts on Simply Hired are free and recommended.  By signing up, you can save listings, make notes on the listings you have saved, and even rate the opportunity for follow-up.  You can save your searches and even turn them into an RSS feed.  Your Simply Hired account will also allow you to map the jobs that interest you and set up handy e-mail alerts for new job postings.  Aside from an actual job with the company, there is not much more for which you could ask them.

Simply Hired’s tag line is “job search made simple”.  It should also be “job search made powerful”, because that is really what Simply Hired is all about.  An impressive set of job hunting tools, this site is a real bright spot in a tough job market.  Check it out today!

Are your tweets influential? Check your Klout!

Do you ever wonder who is reading those tweets you are sending?  How about whether those tweets have any real impact on the folks who are following you?  After all, a person’s influence cannot be measured by the number of followers alone.  Nope, you need to get a more robust sense of who is actually listening to you or acting upon your messages.  That is where Klout comes in!

Klout assigns scores to Twitter users by actually measuring the spheres of influence.  The higher the score, the more influential the person.  Klout also categorizes users into one of four categories, based on their scores.  Casual Users, for instance, may be new or have a small social circle online.  Climbers are on their way up, of course. Connectors are conduits of information to other users.  Finally, Personas  are folks that have really managed to build a brand around themselves in the Twitterverse.  Pretty cool, right?  If it sounds like a tricky and dificult process, it is.  And that is why it is so great to have Klout out there doing it for you.

So how does the Klout Score work?  Well, they actually use an interesting formula that takes into account 25 different variables! Stated most simply, Klout looks at the number of folks with whom you actually interact (True Reach), the likelihood that your tweets will cause interaction (Amplification Ability), and how influential the people with whom you interact are (Network Score).    They then normalize, analyze, and weight this data to derive your Score.  Talk about intense!

According to its website, “The final Klout Score is a representation of how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big of an impact their messages have on people. ”  The iBraryGuy team tested it out and, though not thrilled with our score, we really learned a great deal about how we interact with others on Twitter.  If you are serious about building your social brand, as we are, then it might be time that you checked your Klout as well!

Tired of Talking to Machines? Time to GetHuman!

Do you hate those automated menus you get when you call a business for support or information? I know I often do. Sometimes, let’s face it, you just want to talk to a real, living, breathing, human being. Is that really so much to ask?  The folks at GetHuman have created a site designed to help you bypass those automated phone systems to get to the people on the other side.

Their site is simple, as it well should be. Almost 1000 businesses and organizations are listed and the number is growing. GetHuman is easy to navigate, just start typing the name of the company or organization in the searchbox and GetHuman will start showing your possible listings. For each entity listed, the site provides the contact number and instructions on bypassing its automated phone system. You can also get and post ratings on customer service experiences with that business. A great and simple model for getting things done!

Drop.io makes file sharing drop-dead-easy!

As e-mail systems crack down on the size of files that users are allowed to receive, it is becoming increasingly difficult to share large documents, media clips, and other big files with distant friends and colleagues.  Don’t fight the system.  Get wise and drop your files with Drop.io - a real time sharing site that makes it as easy as two clicks. 

With Drop.io, you can share files in real time by web, email, mobile, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and even iTunes.  You simply upload a file, set any security and privacy requirements you may have, and then let your contacts know that the file is there for their access.  It is REALLY quite easy.  Best of all, it is FREE!  A premium version is available for those who need even more functionality.

The iBraryGuy team used Drop.io, with great success, to share a PowerPoint and its accompanying handout with hundreds of attendees at the 2009 Special Libraries Association annual meeting and conference.  Want to see how it works?  Check out http://drop.io/60sites.