The service already allows you to create your own custom news portal based on your specific areas of interest. You can then share that portal with friends, or opt to have a daily news briefing sent to your inbox. We're not talking just "Business" or "Entertainment"; Congoo's options are much more niche-oriented than the likes of Google News, from "Nanotechnology" to "Internet Telephony.&… Read more
Google is renaming its personal home page iGoogle tonight. Google is also adding a new tool called Gadget Maker that helps people create their own widgets for use on their iGoogle page. The Gadget Maker comes with seven templates, including two media gadgets to pull in content from YouTube and online and offline photo collections. Users will also be able to organize their personal space with a countdown timer and a simple 10 item to-do list. There's also a free-form widget that lets a user mix together various media such as text and pictures.
This is a step in … Read more
I covered the 30 Boxes online calendar briefly last September (see story). But the world's changed a bit since then, and 30 Boxes has as well, so I recently took another look at this interesting (and experimental) app.
The easy part first: 30 Boxes is a nice little online calendar. It's got a special trick, in that instead of clicking on days and times to enter appointments, you can type in its single entry box something like, "Lunch, noon Friday with Frank," and it will create the appointment based on that. (Related: Stikkit.)
But 30 Boxes is more than an events calendar with a rudimentary understanding of scheduling grammar. It's also an aggregation service for time-based updates from your social sites and for those of your friends. For example, 30 Boxes will put your blog updates, Twitter messages, Upcoming.org calendar items, and Flickr photos on your calendar, as well as those from your friends. Facebook integration is coming soon. 30 Boxes reminds me Jaiku (review), another personal feed aggregator, except it's oriented around the calendar scheme rather than the discussion-based scheme Jaiku is based on.
Everyone who uses 30 Boxes, and everyone who is added into a 30 Boxes stream, gets their own profile page (here's mine). All you need to know is a person's e-mail address to add them in to your calendar. The system will find their updates on Twitter and other services, and add them to your calendar. They'll also get an invitation to join 30 Boxes, of course, and if they do they can have more control over what information that's associated with their e-mail address.
Newsvine, an increasingly popular news aggregation and community content publishing site, re-launched yesterday, re-branding its front page as a single page aggregator. Users can now add and re-order content modules such as weather, sports tickers, and photo slide shows. They can also add RSS feeds from external Web sites (like ours). According to the team's blog post, the addition of modules was the most commonly requested feature by users.
Netvibes, maker of the single-page aggregator (or metagator) that I favor, is making an aggressive announcement at the Web 2.0 Expo. The company is launching the "Netvibes Universes" project. It's a simple technical improvement to the current service, but it's a bit of a business coup.
Netvibes Universes allows content creators to create custom Netvibes aggregation pages. What's technically new is that content owners can now customize the look and feel of their pages, and publish them as standalone Web pages with semifriendly URLs (for example: www.netvibes.com/icecube). Fully friendly URLS--in other words, custom Web addresses--will come later.
The business coup is that Netvibes signed up over 100 publishing partners, including recording artists like Mandy Moore and 50 Cent, and major media like Time, USA Today, and The Washington Post. All their Netvibes pages will be available on Monday.
It's hard to say if the Universes pages be better than their publishers' own home pages. They are different. A custom-designed home page can really stand out, but with more people finding content through "side doors" like blog posts, Digg, and aggregators like Netvibes, the front pages of content sites matter less than they used to. It makes sense, then, for some publishers to use off-the-shelf services like Universes to publish front pages that are almost as attractive, and far easier to modify, than all the individually coded front pages that sites now support.
Netvibes told me that it will make the Universes functionality available to all its users by June. At the moment, it's possible for ordinary Netvibes users to share a Netvibes page only with other users, and you can't customize the page nor specify a standalone URL for it.
In related news, Netvibes competitor Pageflakes is releasing its Flurry feature at Web 2.0 Expo. By interviewing you about your location and your interests, this update makes it even easier to get started with the service. I interviewed Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen in February. It's a great product--I'd use it if I wasn't already hooked on Netvibes.
Both Netvibes and Pageflakes make better start pages than the majors (Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google), although in the long run that won't matter because the big guys can easily grab the lion's share of traffic. For that reason I think Netvibes' direction is very smart. Instead of focusing on making a better product for individuals, the company is now embarking on a business-to-business strategy, too, and hopes to reach new users not only directly, but through its business clients.
Read on for more preview screenshots from Netvibes.
YourMinis, the popular single page aggregator service, has launched desktop integration with its library of over 14 million widgets, using Adobe's Apollo technology. After installing the Apollo runtime and the YourMinis Apollo plug-in on your PC or Mac, you can simply click on any widget in the YourMinis library and click "Add to Desktop." Likewise, there's the option to send any widget to the Web if you'd prefer it to stay on one of your YourMinis pages. It's really well-done.
Once they're on your desktop, you can drag them around, change colors, transparency … Read more
Google has released a new module to use on its personalized homepage that retains the look and feel of its Windows-only installable chat application, Google Talk. What's interesting is that the Web-based version ends up having a few extra features you don't get with the desktop client. For instance, starting a conversation with a contact creates a new tab on the top of the interface. You can jump through these like tabs on a Web browser. It's far better system than the Google Talk application, which uses expandable horizontal bars like Microsoft Outlook.
There's also a … Read more
As though timed to coincide with the much-anticipated release of indie rock powerhouse The Arcade Fire's album release this week (it's a must-listen, by the way), Monday night's monthly NY Tech Meetup at Cooper Union featured a trio of Gotham-based start-ups devoted to spreading the buzz about independent music. One's a marketplace; one's an ongoing competition; and one's a way to discover what the people who are discovering new music are discovering (in other words, an aggregator).
Single page aggregators, also known as personalized home pages, can be a helpful way to keep tabs on your favorite Web content without having to visit each site. With nearly all of them able to display content from popular Web sites, choosing one comes down personal taste. We've run down some of the most popular aggregators, citing what works and what doesn't.
My.Netscape relaunched today, providing users with an Ajax-driven drag-and-drop interface to add and customize newsfeeds. There are about a hundred premade feeds to choose from. If you want to add a site that's not … Read more
Yesterday I had a chance to sit down with Pageflakes' new CEO, Dan Cohen. Pageflakes makes a "single page aggregator" service. It's a good site to use as your home page. You can add RSS feeds, widgets, and all sorts of content to the page, and you can set up multiple tabs on your site for different categories of content. [See previous Webware coverage.]
Pageflakes' special power is its community focus. You can easily share your page layouts with other people and even let them modify your pages. Cohen sees Pageflakes as a good service for groups … Read more