As Carlito Brigante nearly said, some time before his untimely death at the hands of Benny Blanco from the Bronx, "When you a-see how good these tools are, you gonna change yo Religion!" Hoo ha! Enjoy.
If you want an interactive map with your own labels, highlighted routes and so forth, you could go messing around with Google Earth or a client application and rattle one off. Which is fine. Or you could just build one online with Quikmaps, which is also great, exceptionally easy and super-fast. Another time-saver: you don't have to sign up to get your map. Go to Quikmaps and get building straight away.
The three step process involves picking where you want to build your map, entering markers, waypoints, text labels etc., and finally previewing and copying the generated code.
An additional bonus -- you can have the map delivered as a widget direct to Netvibes, PageFlakes, iGoogle, Blogger, Typepad, and others via Widgetbox. The Blogger's Walk of Saturday Night Shamehttp://quikmaps.com
2) Utility Poster
So you've been neglecting your blog, and you really need to put something out today. But time is short. A good linkbait post is what's required, but who has the time to go find some good links? Fret no more, Jack Humphrey's Utility Poster will ride to the rescue.
According to Jack, "In 10 minutes you can have a quick yet hyper-optimized and relevant “speedlinking” post your readers will appreciate". Have a look at the video and you'll see what he means. You can pull up the most recent blogosphere posts on a given topic, readily linked, teasered and optimized for a news aggregator-type post.
One commenter on Jack's blog [link above] reckons that this tool makes Blogging so easy that even a caveman could do it. Insults to cavemen aside, the system works with any blogging platform or Web CMS, because it's drag'n'drop to any text box. There is a more upmarket (i.e. more expensive) version called TrackBoost that pings the sites you link to, but this will only work with blogging systems that support the MetaWebLog API. The good news is that WordPress, Movable Type, Expression Engine and a bundle more do. http://www.trackboost.com/
3) Word HTML Cleaner
Ever spent hours working on an elaborate table in MS Word... and then tried to somehow fit it into your blog entry or into a page via your Content Management platform? This can be a real nightmare. If you save it as a web page and try to embed the HTML into your Rich Text Editor, everything tends to go Pete Tong. If you cop out and get a screen capture, you're losing some nice keywordage. Which is why Word HTML Cleaner is going to save your life.
Cleaner strips Microsoft's 'proprietary tags and other superfluous noise' from Word-generated documents and gives you the rest in a more friendly format.
Text coming from Word documents is just Hell for pasting into RTEs and always somehow get screwy on the other side, so this dohickey is by no means only useful for those of you who despair of working with Word-generated Tables. One thing it will do is throw away all quotes, dashes and other non-ASCII characters, and replace them with HTML entities. Also, links survive the export unscathed. Awesome. To use, just save your Document in .html, upload at Word Cleaner, and stick the clean HTML generated in your back pocket. http://textism.com/wordcleaner
4) PhpMyVisites / ClickHeat
phpMyVisites is a free and Open Source statistics package for measuring and analyzing traffic and user habits. Big deal.
What sets it apart is this very nice 'Heatmap' feature, which shows you at a glance just where on every page your visitors are clicking. The capability comes from LabMedia's (open source?) ClickHeat project, which tracks clicks on a HTML page. Nice.
CrazyEgg also offer a Heat Map capability, which can be viewed here. http://www.phpmyvisites.us/
Sick of those nasty old uninvited bots crawling all over your website, flying in the face of robots.txt's gentle requests to bugger off and stop sucking up email addresses, content and bandwidth? You need to bring in some muscle to ward off these ne'er-do-wells: you need the might of .htaccess.
Botsense builds you a custom .htaccess file that will specifically block known leeches, scrapers, and other undesirables. Sign up for the Beta trial, run through the three-step process, and upload the file they build to your root folder. If you already have a .htaccess file, and you probably do, Botsense conveniently provides the text they've generated so you can open up your old version (eg. in Notepad) and copy/paste. http://www.botsense.com/
6) Google Custom Search
Okay so you've heard of this one. But have you used it? The search software built in to most web content management products tends to be a bit, how shall we put this gently... crappy. Let the best in the business look after your search, and kick those second-rate search alternatives to the curb.
Yes, if you go with the free version you've got to let Google display their ads on the results page. But if you're willing to pay for Business Edition, which after all starts at only $100 per year, you open the door to a range of commercial possibilities, like embedding contextual 'Adsense for Search' next to search results.
Of course Custom Search can do a lot more than simply serving as your website's search tool. You can use it to directly add value for your visitors in any amount of ways. A recent post on the Custom Search blog, for instance, shows how to set up a search engine which will search only Creative Commons content. http://www.google.com/coop/cse/ Also see this tutorial.
7) Dapper -- Online mashup-maker
If you haven't come across this before, you really got to clear an hour from your afternoon schedule and take a look.
At Dapper.net you can build mashups which grab content from Youtube, Google, or anywhere else, bundle it just the way you want, and publish in a wide variety of ways, including including XML, RSS, Google Gadget, Netvibes, .CSV and more. When you're done you can choose to share your Dapp with other users, and can use and even tweak Dapps which others have built.
Freeware Genius has a good review of this super-sweet online utility, in which he describes some of the ways you can use Dapps, including:
* Create RSS feed
* Customize by search results
* Customize any content
* "Another example: although I do not offer an RSS feed that is restricted to any other single category in Freewaregenius, you could easily set Dapper to generate an RSS feed just for, say, the ’games’ category if that’s what you want."
* Publish your content
We're such fans, we even thought up a nifty catchphrase: "If you're not Dappin', you're not App'in'. " Yeah we know. That's so good, they should really adopt it as their corporate motto. Jay-Z -- if you're reading, you can have that one for free. http://www.dapper.net
8) Web Form Factory – Integrating Web Forms with your Database
If you use a Web CMS product, depending on what you use, you might be blessed with having an excellent Web form capability, either as an add-on or as a core packaged feature, which makes integration of forms a piece of cake. If not, the prospect of building a form which will write direct to the back-end can be enough to make you want to tear open your chest cavity with your bare hands, pull out your heart and nail it, still beating, to your notebook screen.
To mitigate against such an unfortunate contingency, you should check out Web Form Factory, where genuine end-to-end form integration is a relatively simple 5-step affair. Simple, that is, relative to migrating the third round of next years Augusta Masters to the Sea of Tranquility. So not super-simple, but at least it's a start.
# Build a front-end form file in HTML (eg in Dreamweaver, using a Web CMS tool like this , or using an online tool like this )
# Choose your form type: Database or Email
# Choose the PHP version running on your server (if you don't know, either go here, for instructions, check eg. your cPanel/General Server Information, or just email the drones who look after your hosting).
# Upload the HTML form file mentioned in '1' above, and a 'Thank You' landing page file.
# Name your file
# Click the big green button and snaffle the code generated which will tie your form fields to your database. http://www.webformfactory.com
A nice tool written in Java which builds visual representations for at-a-glance analysis. The Google TouchGraph allows you to explore the connections between related websites, and is good for analyzing your subject coverage relative to other other websites in your niche. Just enter urls, or simply keywords, and graph it.
TouchGraph Facebook allows you too view interconnection between your friends, and also displays shared photos, interactive tags and more. Sign in to Facebook and you're in business.
TouchGraph Amazon, the third TouchGraph utility, allows you to graph relationships between subjects and products on Amazon via keyword input, and makes for a good alternate way to browse Amazon if nothing else. http://www.touchgraph.com/TGGoogleBrowser.html
Some cheeky monkey stealing your content and getting fat off the Adsense? They should be hung, drawn and quartered, if they're not linking back to you and giving you due credit. If they are playing ball, you'd still like to know, so go check out Copyscape, enter your site URL, and let them crawl the web for duplicates of your content.
The free service is almost useless, in that it returns only 10 results. The good news is that the 'Premium' service only costs $.05 per search, which is about a farthing in old English money, which was about as much as it cost to buy a Gobstopper or bag of Bullseyes a hundred years ago.
So the premium kit is practically free, and there are a variety of cool things you can do above and beyond getting a comprehensive search: including automatic / dynamic checking of your content via the service API and tracking cases of plagiarism with your responses. http://www.copyscape.com
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