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5 internet power user tips for OpenDNS, Yahoo! Pipes and Facebook

Thursday, 23 October 2008 — by

Sometimes, stuff like web applications, chat and micro-blogging services just seem like a ton of hard work. So here’s a bunch of web tips and internet tricks to get you going!

Here’s a small compilation of hacks & how-to guides, teased, cajoled and very nearly stolen from around the interwebs for stuff you thought would be too hard to do but wasn’t really!

OpenDNS combined with Delicious, Technorati and TinyURL

If like many bloggers out there, you’re trying to increase the number of people talking about you. Yep, that’s right, so let’s cut to the chase — you want people linking to your articles, right?

Well, maybe they are, but you just don’t know it. Worse still, they’re linking to you but Technorati doesn’t know it. A common problem, with an uncommonly good solution, all thanks to science writer David Bradley.

When he finds a blog linking to one of his articles, he uses OpenDNS to ping Technorati, letting them know their blog exists, just in case they’ve not been indexed yet.

OpenDNS is a service that speeds up things like surfing the web. It’s free and it’s pretty easy to set up. But for me, the most powerful tool is their Shortcuts, which allow you type simple text entries into your browsers’ address bar to call up certain web pages.

OpenDNS + Delicious

Yes, you can already do this with Firefox, Safari et cetera to some extent, but OpenDNS has a trick up its sleeve — imagine you use Delicious and you want go straight to a specific Tag in the least number of key strokes as possible, well that’s where OpenDNS comes in!

You could set up a Shortcut like: “del SEO”

Which takes you straight to that Tag page on Delicious. Simple, eh? As you can see, OpenDNS and Delicious make for a very potent partnership.

Better yet, imagine you want to find information on a film on IMDb (Internet Movie Database), all you have to do is type: “imdb Quantum of Solace” and you’re away!

Of course, you have to set these Shortcuts up first, but they’re very simple to do. Similarly, you could set up a Shortcut to search a particular website directly, without actually having to visit their website first.

OpenDNS + TinyURL

Here’s an example I created earlier, for TinyURL: “tu [url]” where the URL is the web address you want to use.

But what about David’s example? Ah, yes. First of all, I’ll assume you’ve got an account with both OpenDNS and Technorati. Next, let’s look at setting up the shortcut.

After a little investigative work, I found the URL that Technorati uses for submitting new blogs. So you type that into the Website field on OpenDNS, adding in the “%s” attribute, which essentially acts as a substitute of the URL you’ll be adding in the URL bar, when you type for your Shortcut, just as I did for the Shortcut for TinyURL.

how to create a Shortcut in OpenDNS

As you can see, the possibilities are pretty much endless. But don’t be put off by the technicalities. Believe me, creating Shortcuts is stupidly easy!

Yahoo! Pipes for organizing RSS feeds

Just in case you’re a little confused, Yahoo! Pipes isn’t just another feed aggregation tool, like FriendFeed or SocialThing. As the name implies, Yahoo! Pipes is about the plumbing of feeds.

This means you can do stuff like strip out specific feed items that contain certain words, or remove images from feed items. In fact, there’s probably no end to what you can do.

So far, I’ve got a couple of Pipes, one of which is for a friend, which she’s since Cloned and taken on herself.

There’s so much you can do with Yahoo! Pipes that it’s difficult to know where to start. I remember a masterful example by a Google employee, of all people, explaining how he used Craigslist to find an apartment from a particular location, using a bunch of very specific criteria.

Well that was back in April 2007, so you can appreciate how much more mature Yahoo! Pipes is by now. I’ve added a video of the original presentation, which is a little over 40 minutes long, but well worth the time.

3 ways Yahoo! Pipes can save you time & effort

Other examples by Pasha Sadri, the guy from Google in the video, include:

  1. A del.icio.us flavored web search
  2. Yahoo! Answers — questions that remain unanswered within a timeframe
  3. Apartment near something

Get the most out of Facebook chat and how to avoid Facebook Application Fatigue

Facebook is the pre-eminent Social Network, but it’s not without flaws, some of which can be highly annoying.

A cure for Facebook Application Fatigue

Tired of getting thumped by a torrent of truly idiotic / pointless / annoying / insane application requests on Facebook? Me to. Want a cure for Facebook Application Fatigue? Then you need the “Ignore All” Facebook applications button — trust me, this little doohicky lowered my blood pressure!

Facebook chat in a browser sidebar

If you’re like me, you’ve found Facebook’s chat client to be more useful than it first appeared. Problem is, every time you want to use it, you’ve got to visit the Facebook website.

So here’s another neat trick, this time from Amit Agarwal over on Digital Inspiration, sure to save a little time, if not speed some things up, is placing the Facebook chat window into the Firefox sidebar:

  1. Go to the “Bookmarks” menu and select the “Organize Bookmarks…” menu item.
  2. Click on the “New Bookmark…” button in the top left.
  3. Give the new Bookmark a name, like: “Facebook Chat” and add the following as the URL: http://www.facebook.com/presence/popout.php
  4. Then finally, be sure to check the “Load this Bookmark in the sidebar” check box!
Organize Bookmarks in Firefox

1. Organize Bookmarks ↑

create a New Bookmark in Firefox

2. Create a New Bookmark ↑

Edit the Bookmark

3-4. Edit the Bookmark properties ↑

As an added bonus, you can create a button in the Bookmarks Toolbar, too. While you’re in the Bookmarks Manager window, drag the newly-created Bookmark into the “Bookmarks Toolbar Folder”, which will create a new button in the Bookmarks Toolbar, allowing for instant access to Facebook chat.

Your chance to share your very own web tips and internet tricks with everyone!

There are few things better than figuring out an easier way of doing something you do all of the time.

There’s this palpable sense of relief, tinged with the frustration of not knowing sooner how to make Widget A do X, Y and Z in half the time!

So share with the rest of us those power user time-saving tips…

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