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Google is no stranger to closing down services they feel have run their course, with Google Reader being a prime example. One popular service that has been on everybody’s “will they/won’t they” list for many years has been FeedBurner, a service that provides detailed statistics and tools for RSS feeds.

FeedBurner has received no updates in years and many of its features (such as its API and AdSense integration) have been discontinued. Many websites, such as 5by5 and 512 Pixels, have moved away from the service simply because all the signs point to it being shut down.

Earlier this year, a service called FeedPress (previously known as URI.LV) appeared with the aim to provide a worthwhile, and viable, alternative to FeedBurner. Let’s see how it compares, and whether it’s ready to take the RSS synchronization crown.

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When you’re designing an interface, usability should always be a top concern. Ensuring your users can have a pleasant, intuitive experience should come secondary only to the actual existence of your content on a page. Achieving such a feat is only guarenteed through testing with real life potential users and that’s where Usability Hub comes in.

UsabilityHub is actually a hub for three different types of user experience testing – the Five Second Test, the Click Test and the Nav Flow test – bringing together valuable data into one, manageable tabulation of useful results. (more…)

When you’re working in a large team — especially in a distributed large environment — communication is key. You need every member of the team to know what’s happening and you also want them to get to know each other better. A central place to chat becomes the obvious solution.

Having worked on several such teams, I’ve been part of various implementations of this solution. There’s Google Talk (now Hangouts) which many prefer; there’s WhatsApp for a phone chat; and one former employer had an IRC chatroom.

But what you need is something that offers a great, professional chatroom, works perfectly on web and mobile, and is persistent — that is, anyone who logs in should be able to see all the messages since the inception of the room.

Meet Hipchat. (more…)

Creating a personal website can wind up being more trouble than its worth. And as for maintaining one? Well, things can get expensive. Even a basic set-up of a simple blog is likely to lack luster in the design department.

You could use WordPress or Blogger as a free alternative, sure. But Storyboard.me offers something much more stylish, chic and powerful for telling the world who you are.

The company aim their service as individuals and small business who want to portray who they are and what their brand stands for. It’s already becoming a hit with artists and writers, but would it work for you? (more…)

Life in a city can get boring after a couple of years. Malls, cinemas, restaurants, beaches – the experience of visiting those places gets predictable real quick. The new outlets that open up at regular intervals usually won’t veer far away when it comes to being a fresh concept either.

For me, local events ended up adding variety to the mix. One day it’s a stand up comedy and next day it’s a Twitter unconference (definitely no Operas and musicals though!). There seems to be a lot of them happening all over the place, but as usual, with plenty comes the problem of discovery.

Calester is hard at work to help you and your friends find events around you that could be so much fun. Does the app tackle the problem of event discovery effortlessly? Let’s go check it out!

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Being able to publish something on the web has now become easier than ever. You have a wide variety of publishing platforms that you can post pictures, videos, blogs, and more. The hard part for developers that are looking to create a publishing application is that at this point, they are really running up against some very stiff competition. You have the giants like WordPress, Tumblr, and to some degree Squarespace. Then you have other mediums like Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools that you can use. So how does one get into this crowded field and still make some noise?

Well, to start with, you have to be different than the rest. You have to be able to meet a need that these platforms are not. At this point, that is very hard to do, but not impossible. There are developers all the time still trying to meet a need out there for those that want to share things on the web. I say all of this because today I am reviewing Marquee, which is a blogging platform that is just starting out. I have been able to use it for a bit, and I am trying to decide if it really stands out or not so that it can make itself successful. Let’s take a look at it more in depth and see.

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Twitter spawned a whole ecosystem of social networking apps, each vying to make it easier to see all of your social networks together, post everywhere, share longer posts, and more. There were so many different social networking web apps for the same set of social networks, it was impossible to keep track of them all.

Then, Twitter started cracking down on how 3rd party apps could use its API. And both Twitter and Facebook started building their own nicer apps and pro tools, crowding alternates out of the market. Where there used to be an overabundance of social networking apps, now most of us are back to using each network’s own apps. But there’s still a few solid apps out there that can make social networking easier and more productive, and one of the the very best is Buffer.

Buffer’s been one of those apps that everyone loved, but I never could get into. It was designed to auto-post stuff on a schedule, and I preferred to post stuff in real-time. But running the social networking for 3 sites and my own personal profiles got to be too much, and I needed an app to help me out. And Buffer turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Here’s how I learned to stop doing social networking manually and embrace the Buffer.

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We all use mathematics in our every day lives, be it to a greater or lesser extent. you might add up your change to pay for that coffee, or you might calculate the best value for money when faced with a couple of options, or you might use it to calculate your spending budget for each week. These are all basic uses of maths that can be done in your head or on paper. But what if you need more calculation power? What if you need to calculate and display complex functions? Well, then you need a Computer Algebra System (CAS), and Mathics is one of the best — for free.

Mathics can be used by anybody, but those who use it for more complex calculations, for work or study for example, are the ones who will most benefit from it. They will likely need a way to display, calculate and share their formulae, calculations and workings. This is where Mathics.org comes into its own with an online interface and powerful backend. (more…)

Breaking news is what Twitter does best. Whenever something huge happens both users and journalists turn to tweets to find out exactly what’s happening and to get pictures or videos. Monitoring this live stream of events is important to the media and companies that have a reputation to uphold. There are many services which offer this, including Twitter themselves; the search function can be a quick way to get hold of popular tweets on a story or event. However, they’re often lacking.

TwittStorm is a new take on monitoring Twitter in realtime, one that looks great and is fast enough that it seems more promising than most Twitter apps. Let’s take it for a spin and see how it holds up.

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Everyone wants something different to happen when they hit that little “New Tab” icon or press Ctrl+T. Chrome already has a pretty nifty ‘speed dial’ page with recently visited or favourite sites. Some of us want a version of that on steroids, like with Speed Dial 2.

Consider what you usually start a new tab for. It’s either to check one of your social networks (that post on Facebook, the snarky comment on Twitter or what your friend just ate on Instagram), see the latest updates in some of your favourite sites, or just check a file in your Dropbox or Google Drive.

OneFeed wants to put all of that data in a one-glance spot when you hit that New Tab button. It’s ingenious, and yet, I really don’t know why no one thought of this before. After using it for a little over two weeks, now when I hit Ctrl+T, I no longer rush to type out an address in the URL bar — I actually look at the page so that I’m saved typing or a click.

And there’s a lot more awesomeness under the hood. (more…)

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