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Scoble has a new “aggregator” blog

Rober Scoble, famed blogger who is now working for Microsoft, is using a new tool from Kunal Das that allows posting directly to a MovableType weblog by copying an HTML-formatted email to a folder in Outlook. The tool is HUGE for the link-blogging world. It is especially great for those of us using NewsGator to follow syndicated feeds, since it correctly parses the NewsGator posts. My only request would be the removal of the NewsGator “Related” link and the inclusion of the link to the original post from the original source. Here is the link to Scoble’s aggregator blog.

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Right-click subscribe in Firefox for Newsgator!!!!!!!!

Well, someone has finally done it. Stuart Hamilton has created a Mozilla Firefox extension for that nifty little context sensitive Subscribe to Newsgator option. I have decided to upload it here on my site for download, as well. You can get it here. Thanks, Stuart!!!!!

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The Windows Secrity Update CD (February, 2004)

I picked up the Windows Security Update CD for February, 2004 at the Technet Briefing yesterday. This CD is available for free from Microsoft (not even a shipping charge), and it is targeted at people with slow Internet connections. It includes the following updates on the CD for Windows XP and 2000:

There are also a host of updates for Win98 and ME on the CD. It is definitely a good thing to request if you are still on dial-up and haven’t patched in a while, but it will take 2-4 weeks to arrive. It also comes with a promo CD from Computer Associates for their firewall and antivirus products.

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Datapod – a new technology to watch

DataPod is a new service that was Demo’d this week. It doesn’t look like the commercial version is quite ready for primetime, but their site indicates it will be ready soon – prospective users can sign up for updates and a discount here.

The underlying technology for DataPod is a peer-to-peer network with SSL encryption for the data being transmitted. The idea is that a user with multiple computers, for instance one at the office and one at home, could use DataPod to keep their files, email, address book, favorites, etc. in synch with one another. I am not sure if both computers have to be running all the time, but when updates happen at one location, they are automatically sent to the other.

Further, users can share portions of their data with other DataPod users, thereby allowing certain files and folders to stay in synch between partners or other colleagues. I am not sure how the software handles conflicts, though, for instance if one user updates a file while offline then connects and finds that another user has updated the same file.

The last major feature is the ability for a user to log in to a secure website from any computer with Internet access to access their synchronized data. This could provide quick access to links and files from any location while traveling.

There is, however, one potential pitfall for the technology. Businesses may find this product to be a HUGE security hole – allowing an employee to transfer sensitive business data outside the office, possibly even to a public computer through the web interface. Given that fact, they may limit users’ access to the service to just senior management or partners. In the end, though, this product is one to watch, and it could provide help to small organizations looking for the ability to work from home without lugging around a laptop.

Here are some links to other sites that have discussed DataPod recently:

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Desktop search bars

Today, Google entered into the world of desktop search bars with the introduction of the Google Deskbar. For those of you unfamiliar with the technology, the idea is to allow users to perform searches without actually having to launch their web browser in order to accomplish the task. In some cases the browser is launched to display the results of the search, but that is not a requirement.

Microsoft uses an integrated version of desktop search in their Explorer, but because Explorer has been basically a version of IE since Windows 98, it isn’t really a search option without launching a browser. Microsoft has so integrated the browser into the operating system that it is difficult to know when you are actually using the web browsing functionality.

In fact, the Google Deskbar uses a Microsoft API to display a mini-browser in the lower right corner of the screen to display search results. The Deskbar is still just a prototype application for Google that sprang out of their Google Labs division. Google has had an integrated search bar as part of the browser for quite some time. The primary difference between the deskbar and the search bar is that the deskbar lives in the taskbar section of the Windows environment (at the lower right corner near the date and time). That type of integration provides users with the ability to search whenever they like.

Two of the most exciting features of the Google deskbar is the ability to search based on a highlighted word in a document and the ability to add customized searches. The user can select text in the document on which they are working and press Control + Alt + G to quickly copy that text to the search bar. From there, they can either press enter or press a user-defined shortcut key to perform a customized search.

The customized searches give the user the ability to perform searches against any web search engine where the URL is the source of the search information. The Deskbar comes pre-configured with a stock quote function that searches Yahoo finance for any symbol that is typed in the bar followed by Control + Q. The user can set their own shortcut keys for the search, and the user is responsible for determining the appropriate URL to use. For instance, in order to search ebay for an item, the appropriate URL would be http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?&query={1}, where {1} would be the contents of the search bar.

There is another search bar that has been around for a while, Dave’s Quick Search Taskbar Toolbar Deskbar. Dave’s implementation uses Google to perform basic web searches and has built-in functions to search many different popular websites, including Microsoft Support Knowledgebase and others. I have been using Dave’s search bar for quite some time, but I am very impressed with the snappy performance of the mini-browser used by the Google bar. Further, Dave’s bar has so many custom searches that I find it difficult to remember the searches I want to perform and only using one or two of the custom options anyway.

That being said, I am switching to the Google Deskbar for its speedy response and customizable features.

Update: Other sites covering this item:
CNET: Google tests desktop search
Lockergnome: Brief: Google starts searching from the desktop
eWeek: Google unveils web searching software
PCWorld: Google adds desktop searching

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