Monthly Archives: September 2010

Zemanta: Blog Smarter. A tool to help you blog better.

Have you ever been sitting front of your computer, typing up a great blog post but wish you had a friend who knew exactly what you were looking for looking over your shoulder?  Well bloggers, enter Zemanta.

Zemanta is touted as, “a tool that looks over your shoulder while you blog and gives you tips and advice, suggests related content and pictures and makes sure your posts get promoted as they deserve to be.” And it does what it says it does.

I decided to go ahead and test run  Zemanta while creating this post.  So, I went to my WordPress plugin section and searched “Zemanta.”  Installed the plugin without issue, activated it and went ahead and started this post.

Plugin launches in the top right hand corner of your window and integrates seamlessly with your other tools.

Zemanta Blog Tool

Zemanta. Blog Smarter

I started typing my blog post and then hit “Start Using Zemanta” button and up pops relevant pictures and articles to what I am typing.  It is pretty cool and helpful.  I can drag and drop pictures into my post and they embed perfectly.

Example:

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBash

If you want to add a related article for your readers to check out all you have to do is click one from the “related articles window” and it inserts it as a link.

Example:

Related articles by Zemanta

Pretty great, right?

The plugin works well and the “advice” is pretty good.  It really depends on what you are typing about.  Some topics will obviously trigger more relevant help.  Zemanta will also suggest tags for you based on what you have typed, the pictures you dragged and the articles you suggested.  All you need to do is click the tags you want to activate.  If you don’t want to use Zemanta at any point you can just minimize the window and it is out of your way and not active.

If you’re in need of some picture or related article suggestions or just want to test Zemanta out I highly recommend it.  It might help and it might not but it is definitley worth giving it a go and see if you can benefit from it.  It runs with a variety of blogging platforms so take a look at their site and see if it is something that you can use.

Has anyone else had any experience with Zemanta or other helpful blogging tools?

Google Instant, love it or hate it?

Google Logo

Credit - Coin-Opt

By now you have probably noticed something about Google that is different.  No, I am not talking about the moving dots fiasco from earlier this week.  I am referring to your search results.  Well, if you haven’t been on Google since, say Wednesday, I want you to go there now and search for something.  See what I mean?

Anytime anything changes with Google’s interface it is a big deal to a large number of audiences including users, advertisers, business owners and search engine marketers.  I have already read through all the doomsday predictions detailing how Google Instant is going to kill SEO but lets calm down.  If anything Instant gives SEO more options.  You can now try and rank for individual letters instead of words and phrases.  Besides that, I did a side by side test with a browser running Instant and one without Instant and the first page of search results were exactly the same.  In the future, I can’t say what will happen but for now SEO is still alive.

As far as users end goes, I was quite taken aback when I started using Google Wednesday morning and had this barrage of results coming up and refreshing every time I typed a new letter.  It was bizarre and I didn’t know if I would like it.  Google has always been simple, clean and familiar, so this was quite a shock.  After 2 days with it though I am enjoying the speed of my searches now.  It can be a bit confusing if you are typing extremely fast but it just takes some getting used too.

According to Google’s site they can save 2-5 seconds per search with Instant and offer better predictions for what you want.

But if you absolutely hate Instant you can turn it off through your preferences page.

What do you think about Instant, love it or hate it?

Happy searching!

Recap: Apple’s Special Music Event

Well folks another exciting Apple event down and another set of updates and new products to get happy about.

Let’s keep it brief and get to what Apple unveiled and what they didn’t.

Ping and iTunes 10

Apples new iTunes based social network where you will have the chance to befriend fellow music lovers through your iTunes interface and see what they’re consuming audibly. You can even become friends with Lady Gaga! The network is also accessible through you iPhone interface.

iOS 4.1 for the iPhone and iPod Touch

iOS 4.1 will fix a few bugs and issues from the previous iOS 4 release but also include some cool new features.  The update will be available next week.  We also got word that 4.2 should be out around November of this year.

Fixed in iOS4.1

  • Proximity Sensor issues
  • Bluetooth issues
  • iPhone 3g performance problems

New in iOS4.1

  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos
  • HD video upload over Wi-Fi
  • TV show rentals
  • Game Center

Updated iPod Lineup

The entire line up of iPods got a facelift and in the Nano’s case, a complete lobotomy.   The iPod classic appears to be on its way out with only mentions of the iPod Touch, Nano and Shuffle at the event.  The new Touch sports a front facing camera for Facetime,  Retina Display, HD video recording capabilities and Game Center.  It is also thinner than its fatter older brother.

The Nano is now a touch screen device as well.  Measuring in at a bit bigger than the shuffle, the Nano features a fully function touch screen, up to 24 hours of non-stop battery, a clip and an FM tuner.  It is available in 7 colors and 2 different storage capacities (8 gb and 16 gb.)

Apple TV

I’ll give you a run down on the specs and features to compare to the old Apple TV offering.

  • 3.9 X .9. X 3.9 inches in size
  • .6 pounds
  • HDMI Output
  • Optical output
  • 10/100BASE-T Ethernet
  • Built-in IR receiver
  • Micro-USB (for service and support)
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi (a/b/g compatible)
  • Supports MPEG-4 video, H.264 video up to 720p and Motion JPEG (M-JPEG)
  • Aluminum Remote
  • .99 cent rentals of TV shows (no more buying shows)
  • $4.99 rentals of first run HD movies
  • Everything in HD (when available)
  • $99 bucks for the Apple TV unit

No Word On iTunes Cloud Service

Major bummer. With Apple buying and closing LaLa.com earlier this year I was really hoping they would announce a cloud based music service.  Maybe next time.