A database of public and private gardens around the world: http://gardengatewaysphototours.com/. Over 1800 listed. There’s a database of plant origins as well.
Google has added to its personalized phone call from Santa, the ability to send a personalized video. It’s a lot more personalized than I expected. Sadly, not even Santa can pronounce my name correctly but I fell out when he said “Schmoopie”.
Dogpile.com put out a press release about its top searches for 2011. (Minecraft beat by Webkinz? Really?)
Yahoo gets more integrated with Facebook. (Press release.) Hmm. Y’know, if Facebook bought Yahoo….
Speaking of Facebook, it’s going to put “Sponsored Stories” in its news feed starting next year. Ewww…
Silly: Google won’t give you walking directions to Mordor.
Wow, I love the idea of the Type Heritage Project. “The Type Heritage Project [THP] discovers and documents the histories of digital display fonts originally designed between c1800 and World War I…” Not much going on yet, though. Good morning, Internet…
Blekko (available at http://blekko.com/) announced last week that it has added the ability to use Facebook “Likes” to leverage searching its Web index. Let me explain how that works and give you a couple of examples, and then let me complain a bit.
Blekko’s search enhancement consists of “slashtags” that allow you to sort and/or delineate your searches in a certain way. In the case of this new offering you can connect to Blekko via Facebook, do a search that includes the slashtag /likes, and get as your search result only pages which your friends have “Liked” on Facebook.
(Names of people who “Liked” content blurred for privacy.)
Search results look the same as they usually do on Facebook, except for a small note showing which of your friends “Liked” particular content. Also at the top of the search results you have the usual options to sort results by date and relevance, but there’s also a little “Thumbs up” icon that lets you sort results by how many likes they have received by your friends.
In doing some experiments with this, I was surprised how many Web pages my friends have “liked.” It appears that if a domain is liked, all pages are liked — so if a friend “Likes” the New York Times, all pages on the New York Times are considered “Liked”. It would be nice if you could turn that off, though it would seriously, seriously cut down your search results.
I like this as an addition to Blekko’s search and it seems like a simple way to cut down your search to low-spam, high-quality results. My concern is the proliferation of buttons that allow you to simply like (have you noticed them on Amazon?). The whole spectrum of human emotion against the information and culture of thousands of years, presented by the Internet, and our reactions are to LIKE or not?
There’s much to be said for simplicity but I can imagine a “Dislike” button helping a Web search as much as a Like button. Filtering out pages that your friends have specific warnings or concerns against would help a search too, wouldn’t it? Of course you could keep going with this idea — with a “Meh” button, a “Scholarship” button, a “Lolz” button, etc etc. Maybe that’s too much. But wouldn’t be nice to at least express some kind of negative, no matter how mild?
Foursquare. Yelp. Gowalla. There are plenty of services allowing you to let the world know where you go. And now there’s a new one from Facebook: Facebook Places. (Facebook Places is currently for the US only.)
Announced by Facebook last week, Facebook Places works with Facebook for iPhone or if your mobile phone can access http://touch.facebook.com/. There will be a “Check In” button (Facebook will also ask to know your location.) You’ll get a list of places near you and you can either check in to an existing place or add one. Of course this shows up on your wall.
Not only can you check in yourself, but you can tag friends who are with you. Surely nobody would abuse THAT feature, would they? (More about that in a minute.) You can also see other people who are checked in with you in the same place.)
Personally I have no interest in participating in Facebook Places, though I’m sure all y’all would be fascinated by my extensive treks between home, work, and the grocery store. If you don’t want to play either — or if you want to make sure that your friends don’t check you in to places — visit this detailed article by LifeHacker which walks you through making sure your checkins are not shared, and that your friends can’t check in to places for you.
If you can’t think of anything to search for, there’s a list of hot topics on the left. But I did a search for soccer.
The results are divided into three parts — at least I think that’s how it’s supposed to be, though it didn’t turn out that way for me. The first part is the summary, which shows you a live update of links from Twitter and Facebook (or Twitter and Twitter — more about that in a minute) and shared links. The second part is supposed to be just updates from the social Web but Bing kept telling me there were no results. Um, no results for a search for soccer? I dunno. (Update: Later I tried it and it worked fine.) The third part is the list of links that are being shared. You can see who has shared the link recently, or get a full list of places the link has been shared.
Though both Twitter and Facebook are included in Bing Social Search, Twitter tends to drown out Facebook due to sheer volume. I saw some Facebook updates in my search results, but not many. Bing does give you the option to specify the social network on the left, so you can turn the Twitter updates off.
At the moment the firehose of output is so lopsided between Twitter and Facebook I’m not sure I’d use this — I’d be afraid I was missing some interesting Facebook updates in the Twitterlanche. However if/when Bing Social adds more sources to its search, and I can search between them while leaving Twitter turned off, it’ll be useful.
I find trend- and buzz-type tools interesting. I do so many odd searches for obscure things that I tend to lose sight of more popular searches. One good thing about Facebook opening up its data a bit more is there are more kinds of trending tools available, including one I recently read about on TechCrunch.
ItsTrending, at http://www.itstrending.com/, does not rely on what your friends are doing, so being logged in to Facebook is not required to make the most of it. (Though if you are logged into Facebook, and one of your friends was one of the ones who shared something, that will be noted.) The front page is divided up into several sections that show popular links from videos, news, casual games, etc. (And when I say “Popular,” I mean popular as in “9976 people shared this.”)
The top of the page is divided into several sections where you can get more focused trending items, including videos (from several different sources), news (ditto), images, sports, gaming, and entertainment. Unlike Like Button, you can’t add columns of your own material.
Though the design looks better to me, I don’t think I like this site as much as Like Button because I can’t customize it. On the other hand, if you’re not logged in to Facebook or don’t have a Facebook account, I think you’ll find this providing of more interesting/useful things. Worth a look.
Once I got over the “okay, this is creepy” part of reacting to Likebutton, I started enjoying it. But it did take a little while to get over the “huh?” reaction.
All right, let’s back up. Like Button (http://likebutton.me/ ) is a Web site that looks up sites your friends have Like’d, and lays them all out in a useful grid. The creep/startle factor is that this is not Facebook; this is somewhere else. (If you are not logged in to Facebook, you’ll get a reminder to login and a list of links that are more universally popular.)
Like Button divides your friends’ liked content into several boxes in a grid, including YouTube, CNN, Pandora, and The New York Times. Each box has four or five items from your friends that they’ve “liked” recently. (You can expand boxes into full pages’ worth of content if you want to see more.) If this setup is too general for you, you can use the pulldown menu to specify more categorical fare, like Tech, Entertainment, and Video. The page will refresh with one large column and several smaller columns of content. If you find that you want “Likes” from a site that isn’t represented, you can add it. Say I wanted to find out what pages were being liked by I Can Has Cheezburger. I put icanhascheezburger.com in the custom site box at the bottom, and wham, I have a nice widget full of LOLcat content. You can also clear custom sites if they’re bothering you, but I saw no way to delete one custom site at a time.
Actually that’s the only bad thing about this site; I didn’t see a way to customize the way the boxes were laid out. After writing about the Netvibes dashboard, this was kind of disappointing; I would love to be able to delete the boxes in which I’m not interested, add a bunch of custom ones, and then later delete the custom ones I don’t want.
If you’re interested in more general Facebook information, you can also check out Like Button’s Trends Page, which gives you a list of popular words in recent posts. (Examples when I looked: Farmville, Iron Man 2, Flash, iPad, Lady Gaga.) This list refreshes every fifteen minutes.
I don’t think I’d use Like Button as a home page, as it recommends, but I did find the way it divided liked content into several sites/categories to be useful and intriguing. If only I could customize it more…