Bloglist

This page contains all my blogs from the whole semester. It is sorted in reverse order of the date that the blog entry was created.


blog: FeedBurner

by CaitdCaitd (12 Nov 2008 05:18; last edited on 01 Dec 2008 01:16)

Uses of Feedburner!

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According to the FeedBurner website you can publize your feed, optimize your feed, analyze your feed and monetize your feed. All of these services are provided free of charge by Google.

Publicize:

The point of having our wikis is to educate people about our chosen field and to try to get more people interested and involved. Feedburner offers several tools that bloggers can use to tell the world about their feed.

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One way to do this is to use the PingShot service. PingShot is a notification service that enables your feed to be updated in different spot as soon as you add new content. Why would I want to use PingShot for my blog? I want my subscribers to have the latest information immediately after I post it. How can I do that? Using PingShot to let them know! Right now, the task is up to me to let the different aggregators, search engines, and directories know I changed something on my blog. I am a busy student! I don't have time for all of that. That's where PingShot comes into play. It will keep track of the different content aggregators and Ping them when something changes! PingShot is also an open directory so anyone can join!

I can also use the email subscription service on my blog. FeedBurner email is a service that allows publishers to deliver their feed content to subscribers via email. Some people that may want more information about my blog may not be as familiar with RSS feeds. I can use this feature to inform people about changes on my blog that would rather have the information come to a more familiar setting- their inbox!

Optimize

I can use the Feed Flare service to optimize the blogging experience for my subscribers. The viewers can see how many posts there are in response to my blog. Also, subscribers can email me directly in response to my blogs. Feed subscribers can also save and forward feeds! I can also use SmartFeed to make sure the largest amount of subscribers are able to receive feeds from my blog. SmartFeed detects the type of feed coming from my blog and the type of feed that aggregators can read. If the two do not match, the SmartFeed will convert the feed type coming from my blog to make it compatible with the feed reader. That allows more subscribers to be able to read my blog.

Analyze

FeedBurner Stats is a way for me to be able to analyze the experience subscribers are having with my blog. Using this service, I can analyze the subscription data (number of subscribers per day, week, last thirty days, and over the history of the blog) and the reach data. It can also track me the clickthrough habits of people that come to my blog. It also will show me the live hits on my blog. Why is this important for my blog? Well FeedBurner also provides all these other services:

  • Visitor summary and detail
  • Page summary and detail
  • Visitor and referral trends
  • Inbound referral traffic breakdown
  • Outbound click breakdown
  • Visitor city cloud
  • Percentage inbound traffic from search and the specific queries that drove the traffic
  • Percentage traffic from other direct links and the specific pages that drove that traffic
  • Percentage visitors that are new visitors to your site today
  • Browser, OS and screen resolution breakdown, with trend indicators
  • Detailed historical traffic by page

You may be thinking, you still haven't told me WHY this matters. Well, by being able to see what pages on my blog people are viewing, I can figure out what content is most popular and tailor my blog to that particular experience. Also, I can see how people are finding out about my blog. The point of the blog is to inform as MANY people as possible about the HIV/AIDS relief worker's job and how people can become more involved with this job. By being able to see how people are finding my blog, I can boost the amount of people that find it by tweaking the tags on my blog for example.

Concluding thoughts:

I definitely plan on using these tools for my blog. I want my blog to reach as many people as possible. I also want my blog to be as convenient for as many of my feed subscribers as possible. You should check out the FeedBurner site. There are other tools on the site that I did not include in this blog post.


blog: Google Custom Search

by CaitdCaitd (05 Nov 2008 02:21; last edited on 05 Nov 2008 02:21)
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What is Google Custom Search?

A Google Custom Search Engine is a search engine that has been tailored to your specifications. It utilizes Google's search technology. What it does, it that it places priority on websites that you specify. It can be used to reflect your own point of view or help guide website visitors in the area of your own specific expertise.

You can customize your search engine box to match the look of your website. You can add extra search qualifications to help guide website visitors within the search results. To further help point them in the right direction, you can add urls to your search engine site index.

How am I going to apply this to my wiki?

Using Google's Custom Search has several positive qualities. My wiki is trying to sell people on the idea of becoming an analyst in the non profit arena within HIV/AIDS relief in Africa. The best part about this for my project is that it allows me to help guide people in the right direction. There are many different types of non profits operating within Africa. I want to restrict my search results to non profit efforts with regards to HIV/AIDS relief. It also helps steer people away from search results about HIV/AIDS the disease not the non profit work associated with it.

Also, by using custom search, I can restrict certain websites. There are many graphic or misleading sites that pop up in the results when you search for non profit relief for HIV/AIDS in Africa. Using Google's Custom I can block those sites that give a potentially misleading picture for potential analysts.

Some problems: the content of some the websites I wanted the search to look at were deemed "forbidden."

Message from Google:
" Forbidden
Your client does not have permission to get URL /custom?cx=2834726842[etc] from this server. (Client IP address: [my ip address])
The website you’ve just visited has tried to provide you with search results from Google. Unfortunately, the site violates our terms of service so your search could not be completed. If you would like to continue with your search, please click the link below, which will take you directly to Google and the results you’ve requested. We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage you to conduct future searches directly from google.com or through the Google Toolbar, which can be downloaded for free from this address: http://toolbar.google.com.

Click here to continue your search on Google."

The site I was looking at was UNAIDS. It took four tries to finally get Google Custom Search to allow UNAIDS to be a part of my search results. Also, I had similar problems with several other sites. I finally got all the problems worked out to come back to my wiki a half and hour later and it was again giving me similar results. UNAIDS is a highly respectable organization and it provides a large portion of HIV/AIDS relief in Africa. Not being able to get results from this site, creates an incomplete picture of the non profit arena in Africa.

Overall, it can be a helpful tool. It helps me edit out the sites that provide misleading information. However because of the site restrictions that it often placed on several key sites, it is not always a useful tool. When it is working properly, it adds much value to helping create an overall picture of what goes on while being an HIV/AIDS relief worker in the African non profit arena.


Blog:Using Image Search tools in my Term Project

by CaitdCaitd (02 Nov 2008 19:44; last edited on 29 Nov 2008 22:20)

What is the goal of using pictures and images in a wiki?

Images are an important part of any wiki or blog content. They draw viewers in and help capture their attention. I am doing my wiki project on the non profit HIV/AIDS relief efforts in Africa; however, and I was not quite sure how I wanted to incorporate pictures into my wiki. There are many powerful images out there about children orphaned by AIDS or pictures of their grandparents working to feed their grandchildren because their parents are too sick to work. While those are powerful images, I want to also encourage people to enter into this market as a field of work. To do this, I also want to include pictures of relief workers doing good. I want to inspire people to want to deal with the horrible ramifications of this disease.

aidsinafrica.jpg

How am I going to do all of that?

Well, when I first did a general search in Google Images for AIDS relief Africa" I got two basic result types. First I saw maps shaded in with AIDS rate information by country. This type of image is useful because it really shows why there is such a need for students to enter into the non profit sector and drive relief efforts.

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The second type of image I found was that of orphans and crosses. Again, the emotional impact of such images is compelling. It really draws the reader in and forces them to accept the severity of the situation. However, an overwhelming amount of the image results (on the first page over 75% of the results were of orphans) were just of orphans. That may draw a reader in and make them think about the problem, but it may not be enough to really show that you can do use your business school training to be effective in the nonprofit world. I wanted to find images of non profits logos or of non profit relief workers. That may be a more compelling way to show that there is work to be done and it is not a hopeless situation.

Refined Search

First, I used Google Images advanced search to find images and I filtered based on news content. The results I received were very useful for my project because it depicts real events going on in Africa related to AIDS relief. These show actual people doing activities to actually help solve the AIDS epidemic.

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This particular image is useful for my project because it shows Bill Clinton visiting a crowd. The news story that is correlated with the photograph tells of him urging HIV/AIDS awareness and using prevention precautions. The more I looked through the image search results; however, I found that over half of the results were of Bill Clinton or had to do with the William J. Clinton Foundation. I decided to edit my search further to not include results related to the Clinton Foundation. That gave me more results about another prominent organization in the AIDS relief world- UNAIDS.

I also wanted to show the different celebrities that endorsed this cause. By using the faces option in advanced search, I was able to hone in on images of celebrity endorsers such as Bono.

Using a general search engine for images was a good idea for my project because it is very ambiguous. I am not searching for a specific image or famous icon. For the most part, I am looking for general photos and images of the people affected by AIDS and the people that are trying to help. Therefore, sites such as TinEye were not very useful because I was not searching for a specific picture.

I tried using Flickr with much success. I retrieved 5,397 results for "AIDS relief in Africa." These were very helpful in providing images of people doing AIDS relief work. The tag based search was less useful only coming up with 13 image results of the Hanson Brothers signing AIDS relief tee shirts.

Overall, I am going to use images in my wiki to show the reason to get involved with the AIDS relief effort in Africa. I also want to provide an idea that there is hope, and that by joining this effort the potential analyst's efforts will not be in vain.


blog: Yahoo Pipes

by CaitdCaitd (29 Oct 2008 03:28; last edited on 29 Oct 2008 04:44)

Create Your Very Own Customized RSS Feed! Use Yahoo Pipes!

As a busy student, you can generate many web based feeds. Instead of going to many different sites all over the web, Yahoo has created a tool that lets you check all those feeds at once, Yahoo Pipes, that allows you to combine all the different feeds!

Step One:

  • Use the many different Fetch Tools to gather all your feeds from the web and put them at the start of your pipe! Your pipe needs something to pour through it and why not use all the feeds you already have as the starting "water." Why would you want to do this you may ask? Well, as I will discuss later, there are many other tools that Yahoo Pipes offers that will allow you to maximize your time to filter out all your "Shot Gun" RSS feeds into a manageable size and you only need to check one feed! To actually retrieve the different sources for your feeds, you need to click on the one of the source types in the source pane on the side bar and drag it to the graph paper canvas.
Sources:
sources.01.jpgAn example of a fetch tool:
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Types of web information you can Fetch:

  • Fetch CSV: This tool grabs information that is formatted using Comma Separated Values. Tables are often set using this formatting. All you need to do is enter in the URL of the page you want to retrieve and enter in the parameters for how the columns of the source are separated. You can use the default column names or create your own column headers. Also, often there is extraneous information at the top of the CSV data. You can elect to ignore a specified number of rows. Commas are a common way of separating the fields but you can also use tabs, spaces, semi-colons, or type in a character.
  • Fetch Data:
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    There's more data on the web than just RSS and Atom feeds. By using this tool, you can access XML and JSON data sources on the web. What good does that do you? Well, that data can be converted into an RSS using Yahoo Pipes or you can choose to combine this data with other data in your pipe. To use this function, you need to have a website in mind. Once you have it, type it in the URL box. Click on the Refresh button in the output section. If there is information, you will see a 0. To see all the data, click on the 0 to expand. Another tool you can use is to filter out only a portion of the data by using the Path to Item List Field.
  • Fetch Feed:
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    This tool lets you put as many feeds as you'd like into your Pipe. At this time, it only uses feeds with RSS, Atom, and RDF formatting. The benefits of doing this is it combines the information gathered from multiple feeds and puts it into a single feed output. It's fairly easy to use. Click on the + sign to add more feeds. Oops, you did it again, you added to many feeds. Cheesy, but if you did add one too many feeds just click the X to delete it.
  • Fetch Site Feed: Fetch Site Feed uses a web site's auto-discovery technology to locate RSS feeds for you! That's the good news. The bad news is if the tool finds more than one feed it will return the first feed found. Also, not all websites you may want to look for feeds on have this auto-discovery feature. This tool is a great substitute for the Fetch Auto-Discovery tool as it not only provides information about the feeds on a website but it also returns to the Pipe with the feed itself which is something the Auto-Discovery tool does not do!
  • Flickr: What is Flickr? For those of you that do not know, Flickr is a website that allows for storing and sharing pictures! You can use this source to find pictures by searching for them by using a keyword for the description of the picture or a geographic location. You can limit the number of pictures you want the search to return. You can also tell it where you want the picture to be near. Maybe you have a thing for Van Gogh, so you may want to look for pictures near Aix-en-Provance. (Many of the images in Van Gogh's paintings reside in the South of France). The URL for the image will be provided as an RSS feed.
  • Yahoo! Search: As I'm sure you are already aware, Yahoo! Search is a search engine. You can use a Yahoo! Search as an input for your pipe as well. You can search by specific key words and limit the search results to certain websites. To add more restrictions use the handy + sign!

There are many other sources of Pipe information. To check them out simply go to Yahoo Pipes to create your own pipe!

Step Two:

Now that you've got all the sources of the feeds in one spot now what? Well, if you look below at the output section of Yahoo Pipes, there could be a lot of information depending on the number of sources you have. If you like all that output, that's ok. You can just connect the Sources Box to the Pipe Output box. I am pretty busy most of the time, and I don't know about you, but I'd like to utilize some of the other features Yahoo Pipes has to offer! You should look in the Operators pane to find more tools to help you weed out some of the information you don't want.

Filter:

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You can either block or permit items that match either all or any of the rules that you set. You can add more rules by hitting that + sign.

A few other useful operators worth mentioning are the Union, Sort and Truncate* operators. TheUnion Operator unifies up to five separate sources of Pipe input. The Sort Operator allows you to sort by author, item description, link, publish date, or title. You can sort in ascending or descending order. The Truncate Operator limits the number of feeds that come out of a specific source. This can be useful if you are trying to minimize the amount of time that you spend looking at your feeds!

Step Three:

To make sure all your hard work is exactly what you wanted when you set out to customize your RSS feed just take a look at the bottom of the page. This will show you the output of your Pipe. If you like what you see, save your Pipe and then publish it so others can search for it. If you aren't wowed by the output of the Pipe, keep playing with the sources and operators until you get what you are seeking.

Why did I do all of this? Well, as you can tell from all the steps from above, you can combine a wealth of sources and operators to create the perfect RSS feed for you. Without this tool, you would have to go to many different sites to get all the different feeds from all the different sources of information. Who knew you could combine feeds with Flickr results with Yahoo! Search results. This helps the busy student save time, and the operators help you fix the feeds to be exactly what content you want and it gets rid of all the extraneous information for you so you don't have to read it!

Another great thing worth mentioning, is that you can benefit from the hard work of others. Think of the steps you just took to create the perfect pipe for you. What did you do with it when you were done? You published it of course! (Well, hopefully you did, share the wealth of information!) You can search for other people's completed Pipes! This can be very handy when it comes time to wrap up the term project!

All images were taken from the Yahoo Pipes website.


blog: Email Alerts

by CaitdCaitd (17 Oct 2008 18:53; last edited on 17 Oct 2008 18:58)

What are Email Alerts?

Email alerts are a lot like RSS feeds. They provide a method for busy students to do research more time effectively and efficiently. They provide another method to make the internet work for the student. They provide messages to student's emails to alert the student when there is a change in either search results or a website instead of having RSS feeds alert sent to an RSS aggregator such as Bloglines

Why use Email Alerts?

Email Alert services monitor the entire page. Email Alert services do not have false positives unlike RSS feeds. Also, there is a convenience factor that Email Alert services provide. More and more busy students are buying phones with internet capabilities such as Blackberry phones or the iPhone. Busy students with these phones (lucky students!) can check their email and receive notice that the sites that they are monitoring have been updated.

Why use Email Alerts instead of RSS Feeds?

Well, busy students may ask, if I already have a Bloglines account why do I need an email alert service? What if I don’t have a phone with internet capabilities? Some sites that students want to monitor do not have RSS feeds. Some information that students may want to access and monitor for changes are not site based. What is a student to do? There are search based email alerts that can help students track such information.

Email Alert Services:

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What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts are emails automatically sent to users when there are new Google results for the user's search terms. Google currently offers six types of alerts:

  • News: This type of alert is an email message informing the user of the latest news articles that pertain to your search query. The search results that you are alerted to are the ones that appear in the top ten and appear in your and appear in the top ten results of your Google News search. This will help the user only receive updates about changes that are most relevant to the search query.
  • Web:This type of alert is an email alert telling the user that tell the user of changes in the search results pertaining to the user's search query. Google Alerts only include the top 20 search results. This should help limit the amount of updates the users receives to only the most relevant search result changes. We saw from our earlier exercise that not even all of the top 20 results from Google were relevant.
  • Comprehensive: This type of alert is most useful for busy students. It combines latest results from multiple sources including News, Web, and Blogs into a single email update. This eliminates the need to check multiple emails. Students can keep track of their research from multiple sources in just one email!
  • Video: Students that enjoy using video content in their research can also use Google Alerts. Google Alerts provides updates on changes of the top ten results of the user's video search result.
  • Groups:Are you a user of Google Groups? Well, if you are, Google Alerts can track the changes in different Google Groups! It tracks the changes in posts that match your search queries within the first fifty search results.

These different types of Google Alerts offer students the chance to monitor many different types of news sources. This can provide a broader depth of research which will increase the quality of busy student's reports. Currently, I receive email alerts using Google's Comprehensive alerts which helps me keep track of blog entries as well as more traditional new sources. This is particularly helpful for my project as traditional news sources do not always have as strong of coverage on world events and blogs often help provide a more well rounded depiction of current NPO and NGO activities in Africa.

One common misconception students have about using email alerts I have found is that students think email alerts will flood their inboxes. When using Google Alerts, the user is sent an email telling them about changes as often as Google Alerts checks for changes. The key here is that the user sets the frequency with which Google Alerts checks. If you want to know about changes as they happen, you can set it to send you alerts as changes occur. If you only want to check once a day, you can tell Google Alerts to only check once a day.

To sum it all up, Email Alerts are another tool to help people do research more efficiently. It provides an alternative for sites that do not have RSS feeds. I would recommend this tool to any student that needs to do research and I would especially recommend using Google Alerts Comprehensive feature for the student that needs to montior data from multiple sources. Also, many students already have Google Accounts so using Google Alerts is really easy! There is no need to sign up for another service again!


blog: Invisible Web

by CaitdCaitd (13 Oct 2008 00:42; last edited on 13 Oct 2008 01:17)

Introduction to the Invisible Web and How it Can Be Useful to Students

What is the "Invisible Web?"

The Invisible or Deep Web is internet content that will not surface during searches using general search engines because they do not index them. The Invisible Web indexes an estimated 7,500 terabites of data. Why is this so important for students? Academic content such as books and journals is moving to the internet. Most of the content is moving from print to an electronic form, and most of this content is being placed in the Invisible Web. I have found this to be useful when searching for specific key facts or quotations when I am going back over articles or books for a second time to write papers or when I am studying for an exam.

What search engines can students use to access the Invisible Web?

  • Google Scholar
  • Scirus
  • BNet
  • Turbo10
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Google Scholar is good starting point for students. If you know exactly for what you are looking, this is a great starting point. It is extremely comprehensive. You can search full text. This is extremely useful to students. It can help you search for the key phrases or facts you are
looking for in a long paper. Also, now you do not need to pay for access to many articles and books. Google Scholar is not a magic fix to your researching needs; however, it has not been updated since its launch and searching by anything other than a query is a waste of a student's valuable time.

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Turbo10 is a search engine that searches the Invisible Web. To try it out, I searched "carbon trading" into the search box. I got decent results. Most were relevant; however, the search results did return results on how to obtain carbon for industrial use which was not quite useful. While you are searching, the purple bar progress bar will flash at you until the results are all the way loaded. To the left under the purple bar, there will be search clusters. Search clusters are the top ten categories that come up in your search. These aid your search by making it faster to search by key word and to find the most relevant topic. You can also search by results from specific search engines.

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Bnet is also a search engine that searches the Invisible Web. I tried searching "carbon trading" into the search box here as well. The most relevant feature for students I found to be was the RSS feeds that Bnet provides. Students are busy. If you have an ongoing research project, you can subscribe to an RSS feed from Bnet. That way you have the most comprehensive search of the Invisible Web being updated for you! The search returns is fairly relevant content as well.

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Scirus is a Invisible Web search engine that is science specific. Great for engineering and premed majors or just those that are interested in the sciences. Unfortunately not all results contain full text. Scirus has several great features such as the ability to specify your search to fit your needs. There are helpful suggestions as to how to edit your search to best fit your needs. This is a time saver for the busy student. Also results can be sorted by relevance or date.

Basically, every student should be using this resource. Why? It allows us access to a greater source of information. It will make our final products better because the amount of resources we have access to has increased. Also with helpful searching features and RSS feeds it makes our lives as students easier by saving us time.


blog:RSS Feeds

by CaitdCaitd (08 Oct 2008 05:58; last edited on 08 Oct 2008 14:13)

RSS FEEDS

What does RSS stand for?

  • Really Simple Syndication
  • Rich Site Summary
  • RDF Site Summary

How do RSS feeds work?

  • RSS is a protocol that uses XML (eXtended Markup Language)
  • RSS is a group of web feeds that publish changes in web resources like blogs, news headlines, video updates and puts them in a standard format
  • RSS is an open, relatively mature standard developed for the purpose of tracking site updates.
          • There are four standards: RSS0.9* RSS 1* RSS 2* Atom*

o All four do the same things. RSS is about tracking site changes!

Where can I find RSS feeds?

  • The orange icon signals a RSS Feed rss_feeds.jpg
  • You can find RSS feeds by doing the following:
    • Search RSS feed directories by using the query tools we learned in Lecture 1
    • Browsing different search categories
    • Looking on RSS enabled websites for an RSS icon and clicking on it
    • Creating a search query to create an RSS feed by using search engines

RSS Feed Readers

  • RSS Feed readers aggregate all your RSS feeds and put the updates in one spot for you.
  • RSS feeds can be downloaded and read by RSS feed reading software such as:

Why use RSS Feeds?

Quite simply, as a student you are expected to keep up with the news, and in this day and age that can be very time consuming considering that there so many different sources of online news. Students can get their news from video content, online news papers, news search tools, and even blogs. Who has time to constantly check all these different sources? Using an RSS feed reader that tracks all these different updates for you and puts all the updates in one place, is convenient and efficient. It also keeps a busy student focused and on target. No more getting distracted by reading extra news articles and wondering where did that half hour go?

Picking the Right RSS Feed Reader

RSS readers are designed to handle feeds, pulling in appropriately formatted content from a variety of sources
To pick the right RSS feed reader you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want to be able to check your feeds even when you are offline?
    • If so, you should consider using a stand alone client NewsGator offers a desktop feed reader version that integrates with Microsoft Outlook.
  • Using Web-based RSS feed readers means that you have to be online to have access to your RSS feeds. The benefit to this format is that they offer feed search options.

An example of RSS Feed Reader: Google Reader

  • Many students today have gmail accounts. You do not have to sign up again to use Google Reader, just keep using your same Google account information
  • Google Reader allows you to import your RSS feeds from another reader. There is no need to enter all of that data again.
  • Google has a plethora of other tools and by using a feed reader within the Google umbrella you have access to them all.
  • Google Reader also allows you to create a public page so that other people can subscribe to the same RSS feeds to which you are subscribed.

Blog Search Engines

by CaitdCaitd (01 Oct 2008 15:37; last edited on 01 Oct 2008 16:14)

content
news!

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