Category Archives: Tech Toys

Tab Candy for Firefox

Here is a fun tech toy in development called Tab Candy I ran across through the ALA email list.  This Firefox browser extension allows you to nest (create sub tabs) and visually control the myriad of tabs you have open on your web browser. Even though it is still in beta, you can download it and test it, or you can wait until the final product release.  This is definitely a resource to keep your eye on — it may someday become a standard feature on most web browsers.

Aza Raskin’s blog does a great job of describing what you can do with this tool.

Control your Firefox browser tabs in many ways with Tab Candy.


ToneCheck Your Messages

Here is a useful tool that checks your outgoing email messages for potentially negatively implied tones of “voice” and emotion.  One of the down sides of this free product is that is only works with Window’s Outlook Express version.  If you use anything other than Outlook Express, such as Gmail or Thunderbird, you are out of luck.

Another thing I noticed is that while this software can identify emotional language, the overall process has a number of steps that users have to click through.  It would be nice to reduce the number of steps or clicks one needs to use for this product.  Ideally, this software could offer alternative phrases, which would could replace existing text at a click of a button, but this would be very tricky and technical to figure out.  Perhaps subsequent releases will incorporate something like this down the road.

Studies show e-mail messages are interpreted incorrectly 50% of the time.* ToneCheck™ is an e-mail plug-in that flags sentences with words or phrases that may convey unintended emotion or tone, then helps you re-write them. Just like Spell Check… but for Tone.

E-mail lives forever. Prevent flame wars and litigation with ToneCheck™ by Lymbix.

*Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2006

Make Your Own App for Google Droids

Here is an interesting tool to investigate if you have the inclination and desire to try creating your own “App.” for the Droid cell phone…

The free software, called Google App Inventor for Android (, has been under development for a year.

Top 5 OCR Spell Checking Tools

This came from…

The Top 5 OCR Spell Checking Tools.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the process of converting text captured in an image into a text document. This procedure is rarely flawless since little irregularities in the image, think of a newspaper scan, may cause the OCR software to make mistakes. Hence, spell checking is an indispensable step in completing any OCR job.

Unfortunately, most free OCR services do not provide an OCR spell checking feature. In this article I am going to introduce the best spell checking tools for post-processing OCR texts. This includes alternatives for existing tools that do not provide internal OCR spell checking…

Google Voice, The Debute

If you haven’t heard about this new free service from Google, you might consider its use. On the surface, this new resource is pretty cool and very useful. My concern, as always, is the privacy of personal information.

A good question to ask is whether a free service is worth the potential threat to privacy. What kind of potential threat to privacy could this be, and how likely or much of a threat could it be?

This new service from Google is free, but Google is able to glean useful information from your phone use. Phone companies have gleaned all sorts of information from you over the years without you knowing it. As technology advances, companies are able to tell all sorts of information about you should the company desire to do so.

For example, by number crunching they would be able to tell when you use the phone the most, where you call from, who you call the most, whether you take calls from telemarketers or political groups (perhaps tell whether you’re active in a particular group, give money or time), how often you phone your doctor, whether you purchase anything over the phone, if you are gone regularly from your house or are on a temporary vacation, whether you use mobile phones or land lines and how often (or can afford cell phones).

So there is a ton of information to glean from your communication habits. I’m not accusing Google or any phone service provider of giving your personal information to third parties, although there is potential. I suspect Google of crunching the numbers so it can be used in other ways. By understanding the habits of society, one can anticipate its wants & needs, plus respond to events and reactions more effectively.

What does Google plan to do with the information that passes through its hands? Most likely, it will continue to look for ways to be useful to society, to develop new services and tools. It seems like Google, like Microsoft, continues to influence the way that society operates; it has a huge impact on they way that we run our day to day lives as professionals as well as individually.

There are, of course, laws that protect the information of individuals; the laws are there for a reason. I believe that Google “behaves itself” as much as possible and plays by the rules. So I would rate the potential to abuse this information as medium to high, but to give it a low rating for likelihood simply because of Google’s current good reputation and the laws it needs to follow.

In time, I expect to try the Google Voice service in time. It may influence the way I communicate with others (or not).  There is always the potential!

How to Pull Wikipedia Pages into Facebook

I had no idea that you could pull in Wikipedia content into Facebook until I read a recent WordPress blog post by Nonprofitorgs. This post walks you through step-by-step with how to do this.  Needless to say, you need a Facebook account, specifically a community page, and content that exists within Wikipedia.

Facebook and Wikipedia are major players of communication and background content for most web users today, so it is nice to see these two resources taking advantage of each other.  Here is how you do it

This is What a Tweet Looks Like

This is What a Tweet Looks Like.

Now, thanks to Raffi Krikorian, a developer on Twitter’s API/Platform team, you can see what a tweet looks like, in all its data-rich detail.

Think a tweet is just 140 characters of text? Think again. To developers building tools on top of the Twitter platform, they know tweets contain far more information than just whatever brief, passing thought you felt the urge to share with your friends via the microblogging network. // A tweet is filled with metadata – information about when it was sent, by who, using what Twitter application and so on.


101 Ways to Promote a Blog

This was originally posted by David Turnbull who was a guest writer at Below are the first 9 suggestions for promoting a blog followed by the other categories that David includes.  (Read the original post)

Promoting a new blog can be quite daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. As you might expect, breaking down blog promotion into small, actionable tasks eliminates the mental road block you’ve probably experienced when trying to wrap you head around how to get people’s attention. You don’t have to do everything in this list, and some items will have a greater effect then others, but every tactic will at least drive some traffic, and any traffic is better than no traffic.

1. Write a list of over 100+ resources or ideas.
2. Write the definitive guide to something. Spend time making this awesome.
3. Release a manifesto.
4. Release 2 manifestos.
5. Interview cool people. People like talking about cool people.
6. After your articles are indexed in search engines, break them up into smaller articles and submit them to (and other article directories).
7. Or just pay someone to submit the articles for you.
8. Write a list of all the cool blogs and people in your niche.
9. Check out the most popular content on high trafficked blogs. Create similar content but applied to your own niche.

Other topics covered in David’s blog include: Facebook, Fundamentals of blogging, Online Video, Other Blogs, Paid (publicity, etc.), People (audience), Podcasting (sound), Search engine optimization, Social network use, plus resources to know such as StumbleUpon,, Twitter, and WordPress.

Browser Selection in Europe

Microsoft recently opened options for users to choose different Internet browsers for Europe.  I was curious what the process would look like and what users would actually see.  I found the following release from  According to this site, 50,000 people have already taken advantage of using different browsers since Microsoft released this new option a few months ago.

Basically, a shortcut icon is created on the desktop after a Windows update is made.  A box will appear when users turn on the computer after the Windows update explaining their options, and Internet Explore is no longer included on the task bar. It is unclear whether this is for just Windows 7 or if it applies to earlier versions.

When users click OK at the bottom of the box, the text changes to offer the top five browsers (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Safari) ranking in random order.  To the right are six additional browsers also ranked in random order.  Below are the images of what one would see on their computers.

Source for these images from  There are notes included in these images indicating important changes and options.

Read more…

Plinkit: National Collaboration with a Local Impact (program notes)

Plinkit: National Collaboration with a Local Impact  (link to PowerPoint Presentation)
Darci Hanning, Oregon State Library

These are my notes from the Plinkit conference program given at Online NW 2010 (Unfortunately, I lent my laptop to someone during this program, so I am back filing this).   It should be noted that of the day of the presentation the domain name of Plinkit ( was disconnected.  The host did not renew continue the service by accident.

Darci gave specific examples of Oregon Plinkit users.  In 2003 Multnomah County Library served as a template for public libraries; they were they ones to start and model this project.  In 2005 the Oregon State Library took on responsibility for this project, and it launched state-wide in 2006.  The concept for this project in 2002 was to provide a common interface (basically a template) to small town public libraries because they rarely have people and resources for creating and maintaining their own individual web site for the library.

The following is from the program description–it summarizes this program well:

Throughout the U.S., small and rural public libraries are struggling to stay open and do not have the capacity to develop engaging websites that can meet the information needs of their patrons. In the age of electronic journals, online learning resources, research databases, and more, it is imperative that libraries of all types provide access to these and other valuable information resources through a well-designed, full-featured website. Plinkit addresses this issue by providing a pre-built, easy-to-maintain, public library website based on Plone, an open source content management system. This session will cover the history of the Plinkit project, why it’s needed, the features and functionality that Plone plus specialized content can bring to a library website, and information on the multi-state, muliti-network cooperative, the Plinkit Collaborative. This presentation serves as a great case-study for how long-distance collaboration can have a local impact in providing library services in the technology age.

Some of the questions asked during and after the program are as follows:

Q. Many libraries are now being pushed by their city management to use a common content management system (CMS) that all city departments use.  How can library use Plinkit while many libraries are essentially not allowed to express individuality (granted Plinkit is pretty much the same thing as a CMS)?

A. Darci is willing to work with city managers to create synthesis.  The point is to at least have some web presence even though the city maintains control.  For small towns, a CMS would be a welcome thing because their time & resources are too limited.  Plink it adjustable, it supports granular controls, hierarchy, has explicit content types (for metadata)

Q. What is the difference between WordPress and Plinkit?  Why not just use WordPress?

A. You have to consider that in 2002, WordPress was not an option.  Now we have a lot of time, energy, and resources put into Plinkit.  As new users come online with this project, the costs decline for the group.  Libraries could use WordPress though.  An audience member mentioned that WordPress has an interface for small libraries (e.g. church libraries).

Q. Have you considered having multiple themes available for institutions to select from (to provide variation)?  We’re working on a few options now, but you can also customize Plinkit if wanted.

Q. Is this only for public libraries?

A. Pretty much right now it is geared toward public libraries, but includes school libraries and medical libraries.

Q. Is an ILS included?

A. No, ILS is not included.

Note: other institutions are considering fee based systems for local Plinkit service support and installation to cover the annual membership fees ($25,000 –> $8,000).

Q. How much time does it take to develop with PLONE?

A. About 2 hours over the phone, but considerably longer for PLONE administrators (day or two).