How To Update Multiple Popular Social Networking Sites By Automation

It’s Social Wednesday!  Every Wednesday I write about web apps and browser add-ons or observations related to social networks.  SUBSCRIBE RSS feed or email updates to follow these stories!

Many of us being social animals have accounts on almost all popular social networking sites.  Yes, almost all (don’t tell me you only have one account… I won’t believe you).  As your online appearance grows, you become more busy with updating all your status on and uploading photos to these networks.  For example, you had an awesome dinner in a restaurant, you want to share photos of the food to your friends.  How many times do you need to upload the photos and your comments?  Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku…  And you may even have blogs to update as well.  The more accounts you have, the less enjoyable sharing your life online becomes.

I like talking about automation.  After my ifttt and Yahoo! Pipes posts, let me write another post about automating social network updates.  In this post I’ll introduce some tools you can use to make one update and spread to the whole internet instantly.

 

Hellotxt – Publish to Popular Social Networking Sites On The Go

To use Hellotxt, you need to create accounts on the social sites by yourself and enter the login details into the system one by one.  This is a painful process but once you get through it you would find Hellotxt very helpful.

Hellotxt - Organize your social networking site updates

The killer feature of Hellotxt is portability.  It has iPhone and Android apps that allow you to make updates wherever you are.  And it’s free.  It connects to a wide variety of networks but unfortunately Google+ is not supported at the time of writing this post.

Hellotxt - Android app to update social networking sites

Official Site: http://hellotxt.com

 

Ping.fm – Update Social Sites at Once Easily

Basically Ping.fm works in a similar way as Hellotxt.  The major difference is the former has a less fancy user interface and no smartphone app.

Ping.fm - Social Networking Sites Updater

Ping.fm supports the following networks.  Again, Google+ is not included.

Pingfm - Supported Social Networks

Official Site: http://ping.fm

 

OnlyWire – Access to All Popular Social Networking Sites

This is how OnlyWire works.  You enter your login credentials, you write new status update in OnlyWire, it sends the update to all the sites.  You can update social networking sites such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  You can also make new social bookmarks to Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. and blogs such as Tumblr and Posterous.

OnlyWire - updates popular social networking sites

You enter your updates via a web interface.  Then the information is sent to the submitter which is installed in your computer.  The submitter will approach al social networking and bookmarking sites.  You can see what works and what doesn’t, with an option to re-submit.

OnlyWire - Posts to popular social networks

OnlyWire has a free option but with submission limit.  To use the advanced features you need to pay a fee as low as $10 per month.  I think OnlyWire is most suitable for companies and organizations that regularly publish news because of the price, web interface and the requirement of installing a submitter, although individual users would also find it useful if they mostly update their statuses via desktop computer (e.g. in the office).

Official Site: http://onlywire.com

 

PixelPipe – Content Syndication Across Social Sites

Pixelpipe - Upload media to popular social networking sites

Compared with the above sites, Pixelpipe is more media content oriented.  You can see from the list below that it’s main function is to upload multimedia content such as music, video and photos.  If you like sharing photos, this is a handy tool you should try.  It even supports Dropbox and Box.net so that you can backup the things you posted.  There is also an option to email the content to a specific recipient.  This provides great flexibility to content distribution.

Pixelpipe - Content Syndication to Popular Social Sites

Official Site: http://pixelpipe.com

 

Summary

There web apps should have covered almost all popular social networking sites.  In most cases you don’t really need to use them all.  Just use the one that supports the greatest number of social sites you have.  I usually use Hellotxt only, because the more of these apps you use the more tedious account log-in input you have to do!

Productivity Tools – Create Yahoo Pipes to Boost Personal Productivity

On every Monday I review web apps and share tips of productivity and work management.  SUBSCRIBE to RSS feed or email updates to know more!

Last week I wrote a post about using ifttt to boost personal productivity.  What ifttt does is automating information gathering and processing to ease your life.  Today I want to introduce another web automation tool, Yahoo Pipes, which is another powerful tool I use daily.

 

Yahoo! Pipes – Automate Your Online Life

Yahoo! Pipes is an online tool that helps users to compose their own recipes of automated process.  You do this by linking different standard modules to create a complete process.  There are many different types of modules available in Yahoo! Pipes.  They are grouped under the following types:

  • Sources
  • User Inputs
  • Operators
  • URL
  • String
  • Date
  • Location
  • Number
  • Deprecated

It is not difficult to understand what these modules do.  Obviously Sources modules help to pull data from web sites.  Location and URL modules collect location and web site address information, Date gets the date and time, etc.  Some modules are interactive that they obtains input from the pipe creator or user.

 

Yahoo! Pipes – Create Your First Pipe

Using Yahoo! Pipes is not as easy as using ifttt, but it is not difficult at all.  I found this video that you may want to watch:

Let me show you the whole process by screenshots.  Let’s say, tech geek Tom subscribed to a number of RSS feeds of different tech blogs (including Cloud High Club of course!).  He wants to combine these RSS feeds into one feed so that he does not need to subscribe to the same list of feeds in all his feed readers on the computer, tablet and smartphone.  So he goes to Yahoo! Pipes.

Yahoo Pipes - Create Pipe

Tom clicked Fetch Site Feed on the left sidebar, copied the RSS feeds and paste into the URL fields.  Then he linked the “Fetch Site Feed” box to the “Pipe Output” box by dragging one node to another.  He then clicked Save and “Run Pipe…” to generate the pipe.

Yahoo Pipes - Pipe Created

Bang!  It’s done.  A new feed containing the contents of all feeds Tom inputted is created.  He can enter this feed URL into any feed reader.

Yahoo! Pipes is certainly more than this.  Instead of demonstrating all its features to you one by one, let’s just show you some pipes created by other users.

…and much more.  There are many pipes that other users created and made public that you can use.  Once you found a great one, you can copy it and make it yours by clicking “Clone”.

Yahoo! Pipes ia a very useful tool to save people’s time spent on finding and processing information.  It just lacks a nice-looking user interface.  Try it for a few times and you would gradually pick up and enjoy using this intelligent system.

 

Yahoo! Pipes: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/

Managing Google Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts

In today’s Google Chrome Tutorial, we’ll look at Google Chrome keyboard shortcuts.  Even though most computer software nowadays are completely graphically-controlled, there still are many users who prefer controlling software with keyboard shortcuts.  For example, almost every time when I want to copy and paste texts, I move the mouse cursor to the words, select and press <Ctrl> + <C> in Windows using my left hand.  This is partly due to the speed and partly since some users are simply more used to control every thing using keyboard.

Can we use keyboard to control Chrome?  Yes, of course.  In this post, we’ll have a look at some of the most common and useful keyboard shortcuts.  We’ll also see how we could create customized keyboard shortcuts to do things that default shortcuts cannot do.

 

Google Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts – The Default Ones

Google has provided a complete list of Google Chrome keyboard shortcuts on Chrome’s official site.  You can check the keyboard shortcuts for Chrome for Mac, Linus and Windows here:

http://www.google.com/support/chrome/bin/static.py?page=guide.cs&guide=25799

Here I list out the most commonly used and helpful keyboard shortcuts (I use Windows as an example, which is basically the same as Chromebook keyboard layout):

Display

  • <Ctrl> + <+> : Zoom in
  • <Ctrl> + <-> : Zoom out
  • <Ctrl> + <0> (zero) : Reset zooming

Address Bar

  • <Alt> + <D> : Change focus to Address Bar
  • <Ctrl> + <Enter> : Once you entered the middle part of domain name, press this to add “www” and “com” to the beginning and the end
  • <Ctrl> + <F> : Search within the current page
  • <Ctrl> + <E> : Go to Address Bar in search mode (where you can type in keyword and search Google)

Tab Navigation

  • <Ctrl> + <1> through <Ctrl> + <8> : Go to the tab at the specified position in the window
  • <Ctrl> + <9> : Go to the last tab in the window
  • <Ctrl> + <Tab> : Go to the next tab in the window
  • <Ctrl> + <Shift> + <Tab> : Go to the previous tab in the window
  • <Ctrl> + <T> : Show New Tab Page
  • <Ctrl> + <W> : Close the current tab
  • <Ctrl> + <Shift> when clicking a link : Open the link in a new tab

Miscellaneous

  • <Ctrl> + <H> : Show browsing History
  • <Ctrl> + <Shift> + <T> : Show last closed tab (Chrome remembers the last 10 only)
  • <Ctrl> + <D> : Add to Bookmark
  • <Ctrl> + <Shift> + <D> : Add all opened pages to Bookmark
  • <Ctrl> + <Shift> + <B> : Toggle Bookmark Bar on/off
  • <Ctrl> + <J0> : Go to Download page
  • <Ctrl> + <P> : Print current page
  • <Ctrl> + <S> : Save current page
  • <Shift> + <Esc> : Go to Task Manager

I do not intend to introduce all keyboard shortcuts here because you can find the list on Chrome’s official site.  The above are the most commonly used shortcuts only.

For Chromebook users, you have some exclusive keyboard shortcuts, here are a few of them:

  • <Ctrl> + <Shift> + <Q> : Sign-out the system
  • <Ctrl> + <M>: File Manager
  • <Ctrl> + <Alt> + <M> : Toggle TV Output on/off
  • <Ctrl> + <Next Window> : Take screenshot
  • <Ctrl> + <Alt> + </> : Check the keyboard shortcut mapping
  • <Ctrl> + </> : Help

 

Google Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts – Customization

Basically, there is no official way to change the default Chrome keyboard shortcuts.  You could, however, use Chrome extensions to give more freedom to yourself.  Here are two of them.

Shortcut Manager

This is a Chrome extension that allows you to define the keyboard shortcuts for some actions.  While you could use the default shortcuts to bring up these actions, this extension gives you the option to specify the shortcut to be used.  Besides, you can also use keyboard shortcuts to execute specific Javascripts.  You can, for example, run a bookmarklet by using the keyboard.

Google Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts - Shortcut Manager

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mgjjeipcdnnjhgodgjpfkffcejoljijf

 

Key Binder

Key Binder is an engineering approach to key mapping for Chrome.  It is an attempt to fully utilize the keyboard to control Chrome.  Using it, you can specify what keyboard shortcut to trigger what action in Chrome.  However, this Chrome extension only comes with a tutorial documentation but not a graphical user interface.  You need to digest the tutorial yourself before typing in strings of commands to define your customized shortcuts.

Google Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts - Key Binder

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nhbabeboeddnfpeaapplballpmckeien

Productivity Tools – ifttt Boosts Your Personal Productivity By Web Automation

Every Monday I review web apps and share tips of productivity and work management.   SUBSCRIBE to RSS feed or email updates to know more!

In this Monday productivity tools series, I have introduced many online productivity tools that boost personal productivity.  These web apps are great but they more or less require some input before the output is generated (input -> process -> output, a typical structure of a “system”).  They help us to manage the process and output stages, but still human input is usually required.  Could we take the automation process to a new level by reducing human input as well?

Today I’m going to introduce a creative web app, ifttt, which takes care of the web automation completely.  It is a “set and forget tool” that receives information on your behalf, digest it and produce the processed results in your prescribed form.  I have been using it for a few months and am very pleased with what it helps me to do.

 

ifttt – A Personal Productivity Tool

ifttt stands for “if this than that”, meaning that if a condition is met, a pre-defined task would be performed.  In ifttt, you can customize the triggering condition and task to perform, as well as how the information is processed before being outputted.

Productivity Tools - ifttt - Create Tasks for Personal Productivity Boost

 

ifttt supports many popular web apps and online services.  Each of them is called a “Channel”.  By specifying the channels for “this” (input) and “that” (output), and customizing how things are being processed within, you create automated “Tasks”.  Currently you can use the following channels in ifttt.  By mixing and matching these channels, you get virtually unlimited possibilities.

Productivity Tools - ifttt - Channels

 

For example, a basic but very useful task I have been using for Cloud High Club is one that takes any new item in the blog’s RSS feed to Twitter and tweet.  Everytime I made a new blog post, a new tweet about it is automatically made.  It looks like this:

Personal Productivity Boost by ifttt - Twitter Task

 

See?  Just enter the feed URL, the tweet format and give this task a name, you have completed a new task.  It takes less than 1 minute.  You have the liberty for deciding what to include in the tweets, such as the content title, url, author or any custom text.  These are called “Addins”.

Personal Productivity Boost by ifttt - Addins

 

ifttt Recipes – Golden Productivity Tools

So how could we use ifttt to increase personal productivity?  Well, there are unlimited ways to use ifttt.  You can create tasks that send reminders to you at specified time by SMS or email, make a phone call and receive MP3 voice message in Gmail, receive SMS notification when a specified sender writes to your Gmail, etc.

What’s more, ifttt has a recipes database, where users can share their tasks with other users.  You can find many many useful recipes there.  Whenever I want to create a new task, I’ll first check if there is any existing ones for use.  Many of them are real golden productivity tools.

Productivity Tools - ifttt - Recipes

Summary

ifttt is an easy to use personal productivity booster.  You can create automated tasks without any coding knowledge or using any web app APIs by yourself.  The recipes on ifttt are ready-to-use productivity tools that help you to kick start web automation without trial and error.  It reminds me of the Automator in Mac which takes care of Mac app automation.  ifttt is not only a web app implementation of Automator, it is easier to use.  Try it!

Official Site: http://ifttt.com

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