If you ever wished that the websites that you bookmark could be available to you wherever you connect to the web, then the Delicious service is just what you need. Once you sign up for an account you can copy web addresses (URLs) from websites you’d like to save, and paste them into the Delicious “Save a new bookmark” form. Additionally, you can tag those saved bookmarks with keywords to help you keep them organized. The social angle of the website happens as other people you know obtain a Delicious account. You can see what others in your network have bookmarked, and you can save bookmarks for other people in your network. In essence you are sending a recommendation of a website for your friends, family, or colleagues to take a look at. When you return to the Delicious site, any bookmarks that have been recommended to you by your network, will be in your Delicious Inbox.
Another powerful feature that is built into the Delicious service is RSS feeds by tag. So let’s say that you tag some bookmarked sites with “education”, the links to those sites can be re-published as a dynamic feed on another website. If you wanted to get really specific, you could have students in a class tag their bookmarks with something like “umweduc220s09″ for the Spring 2009 Education 220 class at UMW. Students in that class could thereby share those found resources with each other.
Delicious not only let’s you save website bookmarks, but you can also save links to media files as well. If you save a bookmark to a media files such as an .mp3, Delicious will provide a small player program for you to listen to the media file. Delicious also provides some tools that you can use to help you manage and save your bookmarks easily through the use of some tools. The Delicious Bookmark tool for Firefox is a great example of a way within the Firefox browser to search and manage your saved bookmarks. It will even keep track of your most visited bookmarks so you have quick links to those most often used resources and websites. There is also a Delicious Bookmark tool for Internet Explorer. Though we do recommend Firefox for lots of reasons. The Delicious service can be as simple as an online bookmark site, or as fancy as a creating a personal podcast using the tools and techniques described above.
The purpose of this page is to introduce you to the concept of RSS. If you already are a smarty pants and are just looking for the feed links, here are the posts and the comments feeds. Watch the following video and read on if you would like more information on RSS.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, but describing how it works can get very complicated, so I’ll just tell you what it does and how you can use it to save time. It should just be said that it is a really simple idea. RSS is basically a subscription service. You subscribe to a given website, or rather to the website’s feed. So instead of you visiting a given website to see if there is anything new, the website’s feed notifies you. How does it notify you? You need to obtain what is known as a feed aggregator (or reader). I know, that term may be new to you. For example, Google has a website called Reader that is a feed aggregator. It’s just another web page that you visit that aggregates, or collects, all of the new information that is available from those websites that you normally would visit one at a time. You visit one web page to see what the new offerings are for many pages, thereby saving you time. Think of it as though you were subscribing to a newspaper (only you don’t have to pay). You sign up for a subscription to the feed, and you get new news delivered right to your door, or rather your computer screen.
There are several (feed) readers out there in addition to Google Reader. There’s Bloglines, NewsGator, and Yahoo, and many more. You can even download standalone programs that read feeds. They all work in basically the same way. Just like an email program, they will periodically deliver new items from the feeds you are subscribed to. You may want to start out slow and limit how many feeds you subscribe to. Like your email inbox, your reader will start to fill, so be selective about adding subscriptions. That’s another beauty about RSS. You control what you are subscribed to, so it is much easier to get rid of unwanted subscriptions (sometimes it is impossible to get rid of unwanted email).
We also have more information about how to use RSS feeds on our Tips page.
Here are some additional resources for using and finding interesting RSS feeds:
DivShare is an all-purpose file storage site that allows users to share photos, videos, documents, music and audio. You can share your files with a private web address (URL) or you can embed them into your own web pages. Like YouTube and SlideShare, you sign up for a free account and you get 5 GB (gigabytes) of space, and you’re allowed to share 10GB worth of files every month. There is even an iPhone version that allows you to view your documents on Apple’s ubiquitous device.
Just as YouTube is a video sharing website, SlideShare is a service that allows the sharing of presentations that were created using PowerPoint, Keynote (for the Mac), Open Office, and even PDF slideshows. The idea behind Slideshare is similar to YouTube. You upload your presentations and they are then converted for presentation on a web page. The presentations can then be viewed at a specific page on Slideshare.net or you can use code that is provided to embed the presentation on your own web site. You can even embed the slideshow in a Course Management tool such as Blackboard.
SlideShare also has a great feature for adding audio to your presentation called Slidecasting. Let’s say you gave a presentation publicly and audio was captured. You could take the audio file and synchronize it with the slides to create a Slidecast. The slideshow would play automatically with synchronized audio, providing a presentation that was just like the live event.
Keep in mind that you do lose any animated transitions that you used in your presentation, however the original slideshow can be downloaded by a visitor with all the transitions and animations in tact. You can upload up to a 100MB presentation, so it’s a great way to keep from using up space on a web server or course management system. There are also privacy settings that allow you to share a “private” web address for your presentation. It won’t show up on a list anywhere and the web address is virtually un-guessable.
Overall, SlideShare is a pretty valuable service. Features are being added regularly like support for PowerPoint 2007, the ability to incorporate YouTube videos into presentations, and the ability to view presentations easily on a mobile phone.
YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. It’s been around since mid-February 2005 and most people know it as a place to watch millions of silly videos. However, YouTube is one of hundreds of popular “social” websites which allow you to sign-up and have a “space” that you can call your own. You can watch the videos, mark them as favorites, save them to a playlist, and leave comments (even video comments). You can also subscribe to other users and get notified when their new videos appear on YouTube.
The video above shows an example of how you can embed a video in a web page. YouTube provides the code that you need to publish a video, but it still is hosted on YouTube’s servers so you don’t have to worry about providing your own space to host video. They even provide customization for how your video is presented on a web page.
Watching videos is only the beginning. You can also be a video producer, and YouTube can be your screening room. Their motto is “Broadcast Yourself” and there is a whole host of resources that can help with the entire process, from shooting your video all the way to promoting it on YouTube.
So if you haven’t already go watch some videos at YouTube. Then sign-up for an account if you want to participate. The UMW New Media Center has several articles where we talk more about YouTube. We especially recommend that you start with “Making Movies for YouTube“. Also, Columbia University has an In-depth Look at YouTube that is quite good and filled with valuable information. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.
del.icio.us links for YouTube
A combination of the online photo sharing site Flickr, and computer photo management software is all you need to get your digital photos in order.
Photo by dsevilla
Is there anyone out there not using digital cameras and managing their photos with their computer? If you still believe only in 35mm film, then you are a true die-hard. If you have not already realized the flexibility and the cost savings from digital photography, you probably never will. If you haven’t taken the plunge because of cost, anywhere from 7 to 10 more rolls of film should be all it takes to convince you that a digital camera will pay for itself by saving on film and development costs.
With that out of the way, we can now move forward and assume that you transfer your digital photos to your computer for viewing (if you don’t know how, here are some basic instructions). So how do you manage all those growing number of photos on your computer? Why, with photo management software of course. How much will it cost (you may be asking)? Well, as always, we try to find you solutions for free. We have two separate solutions for Macs and PCs. First the Mac. Can you guess what it is? Well of course, it’s iPhoto. It hardly gets any easier than iPhoto. Start up the program, connect your camera, and your photos are ready to get organized. iPhoto allows you to organize photos in many ways such as by date, assigned ratings (you give your photos up to 5 stars), and even assigned tags, which is a powerful way to categorize your photo collection. You can also create photo “albums” to create different views of your pictures.
So how about a program for the PC that’s as easy as iPhoto? Well some might argue that there isn’t anything, but several at least come close. We highly recommend Google’s Picasa (also available for the Mac) which is similar to iPhoto, offers similar functionality, and is free to download. For Windows there is also Microsoft’s Live Photo Gallery. It is different from the version that comes pre-installed on Windows Vista and it will also run on Windows XP. Live Photo Gallery is free to download and it shares many of the same features as iPhoto. We think it is worthy of being compared to iPhoto because it has a good amount of image editing capabilities and has a plugin architecture that allows additional functionality.
What about sharing your photos with others? We strongly recommend a site/service called Flickr. Owned by Yahoo since 2005, Flickr has grown to host billions of images. The obvious advantage of storing your photos on Flickr is that you can retrieve them wherever you have an Internet connection. Free accounts limit the amount of photos you can upload to 100MB per month, so you may want to consider a “Pro” account for $24.95 per year to store unlimited amounts of photos. Flickr’s advantage is its programming capabilities that have been made available to allow all kinds of tools for using Flickr images. Blogging software like WordPress allows easy use of Flickr photos in your blog posts, and Windows Live Writer has a built in Flickr plugin. Many other devices such as Apple TV and even the iPhone have programs to connect to your Flickr photos as well. Flickr also will point to services that will create books, calendars, posters, and even coffee mugs. Digital photography opens up almost limitless ways of publishing and sharing your photos.