Tag Archives: utility

del.icio.us Tag Bundling

3 Nov

I’ve written about del.icio.us several times before (use the search box to find the articles). I’ve been using the service for quite a while and still consider it to be one of the most valuable web services I use.

I just discovered the tag bundling feature from this article and tried it out. Tag bundling, as you might expect, allows you to group your tags. For example, my first bundle was “people”, so now I can see all my people tags in one group. I’ll be adding more bundles soon.

If you’re not using del.icio.us, you should really check it out. And if you, are and don’t know about tag bundling, give it a shot.

del.icio.us makes it easy to share tags – for example, here’s a link for my bookmarks on the Ruby programming language. I haven’t discovered a similar way for sharing bundles, so if you know, please leave a comment.

Social Bookmarking

7 Aug

Here’s a video that explains why using a site such as del.icio.us can be useful. I think they may have failed to mention that you can mark bookmarks as private on del.icio.us, so it’s not necessary to expose your bookmarks to the world. However, in my case, I only mark a small fraction as private.

I’ve been using del.icio.us for quite some time. After I had been using it for a while, I realized that it had been a long time since I bookmarked something in my browser because I had developed a habit of bookmarking in del.icio.us. Most browsers force you into placing a bookmark into a hierarchical, or directory, structure, but on del.icio.us you can assign as many “tags” as you like to a particular bookmark so you can search for things more easily. del.icio.us also allows you to export your bookmarks so you aren’t at the mercy of a proprietary service.

Another thing that is handy is to subscribe to the del.icio.us feeds of your friends to be automatically notified when they bookmark something that may be of interest.

Google Reader

30 Jul

I hate to promote Google given their trajectory to take over the world, but I just switched over to Google Reader for reading RSS feeds. I had accumulated over 60 RSS feeds, and it was becoming difficult for me to determine which feeds I should keep and which I should delete.

I was hoping for an automated tool that would keep track of which feeds are beneficial and Google Reader has exactly what I was looking for!

The trends feature will keep track of which articles I read from each feed and report on the total number and the percent. So, over time, I’ll be able to easily delete the feeds that have a low number and/or low percentage of read articles. If you decide to use Google Reader, you should be aware of some idiosyncrasies. When viewing in “Expanded view”, the default is to mark articles as read when you scroll past them which totally defeats the trends feature. You can turn that off in the settings.

settings | preferences | scroll tracking

I like using the “list view” instead which allows me to quickly view the titles. After I’ve read the articles I want to from a feed, I click “mark all as read” and Google Reader is smart enough to not count those in the “read” statistics.

If you’re already using a different RSS reader, you can easily import all your feeds via an opml file. I was using Liferea and had folders of feeds, and I had also renamed the feeds – the import to Google Reader kept track of all of that – nice.

Google Reader has a lot of other nice features such as keyboard shortcuts, tags, folders, etc., but once I discovered the trends feature, that was all I needed to see 🙂

I suppose the trends feature can be “unfair” though. Consider the following scenario:

  1. You have two feeds A and B
  2. Each day each feed publishes 10 articles
  3. The feeds overlap on 5 articles that are worth reading
  4. Feed A has 1 unique article that you read
  5. Feed B has 3 unique articles that you read

If the feeds are read in alphabetical order, then you’ll read the 5 overlapped articles from Feed A along with the 1 unique article -> total = 6, or 60%. Then you’ll read the 3 unique articles from Feed B -> total = 3, or 30%. The stats will show Feed A as being twice as valuable when clearly Feed B is more valuable. I suppose to get good stats, I should read the feeds in random order, but that seems difficult to manage.

UPDATE: ah, never mind. Simply view the folder that contains A & B and you’ll see the union of their articles in chronological order – whoever gets the overlapped story first wins 🙂

Adblock Plus

23 Jul

Facebook.com just ran an ad that was quite offensive to me. I should’ve taken Scott Moonen’s advice from his blog earlier, but better late than never. He has simple instructions for installing Adblock on his blog. Check it out and get rid of ads!

Half star ratings on Netflix

2 May

I noticed a friend of mine (Jordan L.) who had half-star ratings (2.5, 3.5, etc.) on Netflix. When I asked him about it, he said to just “hover over the left side of the star” to get a half-star rating. This didn’t work for me, so I thought it might be a Linux vs. Windows thing and asked another friend (Mike F.) to try it out. Same result – didn’t work in IE or Firefox on Windows. Then Mike found a JavaScript file that could be installed with greasemonkey and that worked fine for him.

I’ve yet to install greasemonkey, and I don’t like the idea of installing JavaScript on my system unless I’ve thoroughly analyzed it, so I thought of another way.

I installed wireshark on my Ubuntu Linux box and sniffed the network traffic to Netflix when I rated a movie. After some experimenting and removal of extraneous info, I came up with the following URL to rate a movie with half stars. This specific URL will rate the movie “The Incredibles” with a 4.5 star rating (probably a bad example since The Incredibles clearly deserves a 5 star rating):

http://www.netflix.com/SetRating?widgetid=M70001989&value=4.5

To rate other movies, simply replace 70001989 with the id of the movie which you can find by hovering over the movie. I believe you’ll need to be logged in to Netflix already for this to work.

Now as to why Jordan can rate half-stars without the aid of a greasemonkey script, that’s still a mystery.

Update: got an email from Jordan explaining that his Netflix pages include the following two JavaScript source files:

src=”http://www.netflix.com/layout/jscript/dom_starbar_v2.js?v=126505″
src=”http://www.netflix.com/layout/jscript/dom_starbar_halfstars.js?v=126505″

I only have the first one, and from the name of the second one, I presume that’s the one that gives him the special half star rating capability. I guess Netflix favors Jordan over me 😦

Update 2: mystery solved! My curiosity got the best of me so I contacted Netflix. The rep said they’re running a test and Jordan just happened to get picked (I didn’t mention Jordan, but I suppose they looked through my ‘friend’ list)! They do that periodically to test features to see if they’ll give them to the unwashed masses. I asked if they could run the test on me, and he said it didn’t work that way 🙂 So I guess it’s the greasemonkey script or the inconvenient URL hack for the rest of us.

del.icio.us

10 Apr

In my opinion, del.icio.us is one of the more useful Web 2.0 applications. In a nutshell, del.icio.us allows you to do the following:

  1. Easily create a bookmark/favorite for a web site that’s stored on a remote server
  2. Add tags and notes to your bookmarks
  3. Export your bookmarks from del.icio.us
  4. Provide an rss feed for your bookmarks
  5. Provide an rss feed for your tags
  6. Search del.icio.us for web sites that have been bookmarked by others
  7. Use blogging utilities

Let’s consider some of the implications of the above.

1. Remote bookmarks

By storing your bookmarks on a remote server instead of in your browser, you gain three significant benefits. First, if you use more than one computer (or upgrade to a new one), you’ll never have to synchronize bookmarks between computers or suffer from having an important bookmark on a computer other than the one you’re using. Second, by storing your bookmarks on a remote computer that is professionally managed, you’ll have a backup of a very important set of information. Third, you can easily share your bookmarks with others. del.icio.us allows you to mark bookmarks as private, so you can pick and choose which bookmarks you’d like to share, and which you don’t.

2.Tags!

Web 2.0 is all about the tags 🙂 Seriously, hierarchies can be useful, but for bookmarks, I feel that assigning a set of tags to a bookmark is much more useful than trying to place a bookmark in a particular spot in a hierarchy of bookmarks. del.icio.us allows you to edit your tags, rename them, etc., if you don’t get it right the first time. This is particularly powerful in conjunction with searching other peoples’ bookmarks – just think of how awkward it would be to search through each person’s peculiar hierarchy.

3. Export your data

This feature was absolutely essential for me to use del.icio.us. I wasn’t about to add all my bookmarks to a remote server only to be held captive by del.icio.us. Fortunately del.icio.us allows you to export your data, so you can take your bookmarks and go home whenever you want.

4. RSS feed for bookmarks

This feature is quite useful. It allows you to add an RSS feed of your friend’s bookmarks to an RSS reader, so you can be notified of new bookmarks your friend has recently added. Usefulness depends on the person whose bookmarking you’re following 🙂

5. RSS feed for tags

Same as 4, but for following new tags instead of bookmarks.

6. Search

del.icio.us has some great searching facilities. Since del.icio.us knows about a ton of sites that have been bookmarked by people, it can provide intelligent search capabilities that can exceed a purely mathematical approach such as Google in some cases.

7. Blogging utilities

Link rolls, tag rolls and badges, oh my. del.icio.us allows you to place a tag roll on your web site (note my tag roll does not reflect my priorities 🙂 ).

It also allows you to display your latest bookmarks:

my del.icio.us

Get Started

Sign up for a free account on del.icio.us. They make it easy to import your current bookmarks/favorites. If you’d like to share your bookmarks, let me know your account name when it’s setup.

You can see my del.icio.us bookmarks here

And my bookmark RSS feed is here

If any of you existing del.icio.us users would like to share your bookmarks, either post a comment with your account, or email me privately.