Open Web Awards Nominations Open

OpenWebAwardsLogo

Nominations for the Open Web Awards have opened up today. The Open Web Awards is the first ever online, open collaborative awards event, to recognize the best online communities representing web 2.0. Today’s nominations center around Widgets and Applications.

To nominate a widget or application, leave a comment with the word “NOMINATE” in it. Nominations will remain open until 11:59pm PST on December 4th (next Tuesday). At that point, we will tally up the nominations and enter the second stage of the competition – voting.

Nominations are taking place at THIS POST on Mashable.com. I ended up nominating Cliqin and their associated widget. Other than the MyBlogLog widget, I can’t have much of a say in terms of nominating other widgets or applications because I don’t use them!

AddToAny Bookmarking Widget

AddToAny.com Logo

Looks like the WordPress Plugin called ShareThis has some competition in the form of a widget. AddToAny is a service that you can use to make it easy for your visitors to subscribe to your content. Creating a button for your site is easy. There are two types of buttons you can make. One for your specific webpage or, for your RSS feed. For my example, I’m using my RSS feed.

AddToAny Feed Button Creation

Once you type in your information, you can obtain the javascript code by clicking on the GET BUTTON CODE button. Here is what my example looks like: Subscribe

Once of the cool things about this button is that when you hover over it, a big list of bookmarking services are presented as links. This makes it easy for you to cover alot of ground by using one image, instead of having a different image for each service which would make your blog look like a mess.

AddToAny works pretty much in the same way that AddThis.com works. AddThis.com is the one I use and have used for quite some time. I use that in conjunction with ShareThis so there shouldn’t be any issues in saving a particular item on this blog to a bookmarking service or feed reader of your choice.

a2a_linkname=”Jeffro2pt0 – A Blog About Stuff”;a2a_linkurl=”http://feeds.feedburner.com/Jeffro2pt0″;

Visual Mashup Maker MashupMania Reviewed

MashupMania Logo

Not a code monkey? MashupMania tries to make it as easy as pie to create a mashup using visual elements that are more like puzzle pieces. No coding required. I’ll come right out and say that the first time I tried to load this site, FireFox almost vomited all over itself. Thankfully, it didn’t crash.

The Site Design:

One of the first things you should notice is the Web 1.0 design elements. White background, web 1.0 button links, scroll bars and weird design elements. However, I have to give these folks credit for adding the beta logo in the top left hand corner and the blue TRY NOW badge. Not to mention, the black content bars have rounded corners. Let’s call the design, Web 1.5.

Upon visiting the homepage, I was knocked to the floor by the WTF do I do feeling. After taking a few wild guesses, I found out that the link to the MashupMaker was called ‘Widgeteria‘. Either I’m dumb or that’s not the greatest piece of text you could use to label that section of the site.

The Nitty Gritty:

I did manage to check out the tutorial thats posted on the front page of the site. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any audio attached to it. It would of been much nicer if the tutorial was actually a walkthrough of the site and offered up audio that described what it was the Widgeteria did. You do however, get a taste of how the site works.

MashupMania Is A Mess

This is a small sample of what you’ll be greeted with once you enter the Widgeteria. In all honesty, it’s a mess, with draggable windows all over the place and no real starting point. Thank god their is a CLEAR button on the top options bar.

Once the area was cleared off, I decided to take a look at the Library. The library contains a list of pre-made widgets that can be customized to suit your needs without having to start from scratch. For the purpose of this review, I selected the RSS FEED 2 option.

Widget Library

After selecting RSS FEED 2, a box popped up which allowed me to type in an RSS feed URL. After putting in my FeedBurner address, the parser on the right hand side of the site was filled up with my blog posts. Not knowing what to do with the widget now, I choose to save it. Clicking the SAVE button opens up a new dialog box that gives me the options of giving the widget a name, and then a short description. After saving my Widget, I noticed it shows up in the library for anyone else to use.

When your finished tinkering around with your widget, click on the EXPORT button. The dialog box lets you know that before you can export your work, you have to save the widget. MashupMania then provides you a block of code which you then have to embed into your site. In my case, it was a block of javascript code within an Iframe.

I tried posting the code that MashupMania gave to me into the WordPress Text editor in CODE View and for whatever reason, everything in the WordPress text editor disappeared. I had to refresh the page a few times while constantly clicking on the CODE tab in order to delete the javascript. I did mange to see what the widget looked like on the page before it borked and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, I’m not even sure what it was I posted.

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those reviews that I couldn’t wait to get over with.

The Good:

  • Great Idea/Concept
  • For those that can figure it out, it could be one hell of a service for you
  • The FAQ section of the site

The Bad:

  • The site makes FireFox crap on itself
  • The site design is not user-friendly
  • Messing around in the widget area is a SLOW process
  • The video tutorial on the front page does little to help a noob.
  • Knowing what the hell your doing is almost impossible
  • The first visit to the Widgeteria greets you with a ton of crap you don’t need

At times, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. Making the creation of a widget as a step by step process with an explanation as to what THIS or THAT does might of made for a better experience. I think the idea of being able to create a widget without touching any code is great, but doing it the way MashupMania has it setup is a painstaking process that made me wish I knew how to code. This is my opinion and your experience and opinions may vary. If you decide to give this site a try, let me know how it went.

Amung.Us Is Back Online Intros Heatmaps

Whos.Amung.Us Logo

If you were wondering why your Amung.Us widget was not working yesterday, you weren’t the only one. It turns out that the datacenter which houses the Whos.Amung.Us servers ACCIDENTALLY pulled the plug on one of their servers. After some time, they were able to fix the problem and now their site and widget are fully operational. I guess these things really do happen.

Heatmap Of My Visitors

To coincide with the return of their website, Whos Amung Us has launched a new feature to their real time maps, HeatMap Overlays. Those who have the feature enabled on their maps will be able to toggle the map by clicking an option in the lower left hand corner of the map. If you already have a map embedded into your site, you will have to create a new one in order to take advantage of the heatmap feature. You can grab your map from here. One thing worth noting is that you will not be able to see the HEATMAP option on a map that is embedded on a webpage. Instead, you will need to click on the map and view the heatmap from the Maps.Amung.Us website. If you want to check out the heatmap for this website, click here.

Kontactr Adds Pop Up Feature

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Kontactr, the service that gives users an very easy way to provide a contact form on your site for readers to contact you and in which I covered here, Easy To Use Contact Forms Via Kontactr has added a new feature called Kontactr Pop Up or KPU. KPU trys to make it easier for your readers to contact you by opening up a contact form without having to load another page.

KPU comes in three flavors, text link, small button or a larger contact button. Whenever a user clicks on one of these new links, the background of the webpage turns dark and a contact form appears on your screen. This means that, users won’t be required to load a separate web page to view your contact form. This should decrease the load on your server as that is one less page that has to be processed.

New Contact Form From Kontactr

The popup contains everything that the original form has with the exception of the an additional command to close the popup window which can be initiated by pressing ESC on your keyboard.

What’s nice about this new option is that, bloggers that use Kontactr now have an option to provide a contact link directly within a post. This means that readers will be able to click on a link within an article to contact you without having to perform any extra steps, such as browsing to the static location of your form which in my case, is found at the top of this site.

As with the majority of things on the web these days, this popup will not work if you have Javascript disabled in your browser. So keep that in mind if it does not work.

Is The BlogRush Over With?

My BlogRush Stats

When I initially became aware of BlogRush and it’s associated claims of rushing traffic to blogs, I became extremely interested. As a blogger myself, I’m always looking into new ways to generate traffic. As we now know, BlogRush has itself experienced a rush, a rush that I believe is bigger than any smalltime blogger currently using their widget, has experienced. Their system is simple and at face value looks like it would work for everyone, but after reviewing my stats, it looks like it won’t work for me.

My BlogRush Impressions

Out of 2,401 impressions or appearances on various sites, only 4 people have clicked a headline attributed to my site. If you ask me, that’s not exactly a rush of traffic. Now I know it could be possible that the headlines to my articles suck, but is that really the case? My blog is currently competing within the Computers and Internet category and I myself have clicked on a few of the links within the widget on and have found some really cool sites. However, till this day, I have yet to see any of my posts appearing on anyone else’s widget. I even spent half an hour, clicking on various posts from one widget to the next, and I never saw one post from my site.

It’s also worth mentioning that I have checked both my Entry pages, and my Exit pages for the widget url. As we’ve seen earlier, at least 4 people have used the article headline on the widget as an entrance page to my site. However, there are 25 hits for the widget url being used as an exit page. Although I don’t know how many of those exits are attributed to myself, I really feel as if I’m doing everyone else a favor, by having this widget published on my site versus helping myself out.

The only people that seem to be benefiting from this service are the big blogs who most likely have quite a few referrals. BlogRush has stated in their latest email that:

We’ll soon be adding a bonus credit system that gives certain bonuses only to our low traffic members since they need the help the most!

That may be enough to help us small timers out, but only time will tell. So far, I’m experiencing lack luster results with BlogRush and apparently, these people are too although I’m not sure why Darren is using Blogrush as his blog gets enough traffic as it is.

ProBlogger.Net

Nusuni

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Texty Rolls Out Anticipated Updates

Texty.com LogoThe easy content creation service known as Texty which I reviewed here, Simple Content Creation Using Texty, has rolled out some anticipated updates. One of those updates fixed the Google SEO problem so many users mentioned.

In each Texty edit object under “Advanced Secret Options” you can now input the URL where you plan to post your Texty. Texty claims their indexing techniques will ensure your content will be crawled by search engine spiders which was a missing feature that turned quite a few newcomers away from using the service. They have also added a privacy feature in case you wouldn’t want your content to be indexed. Before you publish your Texty Note, click the “Private” button.

New Texty Features

One of the other updates that were featured in this release is the ability to add a DIGG function to anyone of your Texty notes. This control can be found within the Advanced Options tab. I’m not sure if you’ll ever see a Texty reach the front page of DIGG but hey, it’s worth a shot.