Firefox Extension: TinyURL Creator

If you haven’t already got it installed I highly recommend the TinyURL Creator Firefox Extension. I’ve been using it more and more recently, simply browse to a page and right click, select ‘Create TinyURL for this Page’ and it generates the url and places it on the clipboard ready for you to paste.

For those who don’t know what a TinyURL is TinyUrl is a service that takes a long URL as input, and gives you a short URL to use in it’s place. For example the TinyURL for https://www.virtualchaos.co.uk/blog/ is http://tinyurl.com/39sbbh. This comes in useful if you want to put a link into Twitter or in an SMS message where you have a limited number of characters to use. I’ve been using the service a lot, but it’s so much easier with the firefox extension.

Yahoo Widgets 4.0 Released

Yahoo Widgets 4 is now available for download. The new version makes significant performance improvements over earlier releases. They have also finally provided a built in method of updating widgets, as well as discovering new ones – something I’ve been keenly looking forward to, since I had to implement my own update listener for a set of widgets I wrote last year.

Also new in this verison is the Widget Dock, which is very similar to the Google and Vista Dock bars, basically allowing you to manage and neatly organise widgets on the desktop. I also like the new Flickr widget which is bundled with version 4. The widget not only streams photos from Flickr directly to your desktop it also provides drag and drop upload capability so you put your photos onto Flickr with relative ease.

From a development point theyve made massive performance improvements with DOM traversal of XML and XPath seems substantially faster against large XML DOM’s – which is something I used to whinge about a lot. You can view a list of all the changes in the versions release notes.

All in all, its not bad!

Google Tech Talk: Mashups – Combining Web Applications to Make Desktop Productivity Tools

An interesting tech talk by Mark Birbeck CEO of X-Port. Some of my colleagues saw Mark talk at the mashup* event in London last month. Although I have reservations about the Sidewinder framework he proposes, we at Talis are doing more and more work to make API’s available to developers that can be called from desktop based applications like the widgets and gadgets Mark describes. The problem with Sidewinder though is it provides a wrapper around web based applications allowing you to run them on your desktop – and im struggling to see the value in that.

I’ve done a fair bit of work creating Yahoo (Konfabulator) Desktop Widgets that use our API’s which will be released in the new few months, as exemplars of how developers out there can mashup our API’s with other services to create interesting and even compelling new applications. We like mashups at Talis, in fact we held a very successful mashup competition last year, which we are running again this year so if your interested why not enter the competition.