Spineless wonder Build brand credibility with Google Book Preview

Posted by tom klein September 24, 2008 at 12:16 pm

It’s common practice to cite a highly reputable source, such as a book or author, when building your brand’s credibility. We frequently call on expert and academic Don Norman when making the case for putting usability ahead of decoration. Problem is, this type of content requires your audience to link to another site.

Now you can add professional book previews to your website or blog with Google Preview Wizard. This tool lets you put brand-supporting materials within plain view and build your own user experience around a book. Google Preview Wizard is part of the Google Book Search API, which gives any average Joe with a rudimentary knowledge of HTML the ability to link to, utilize, and preview publications listed in Google Book Search. The app is JavaScript-based (i.e. no download required), giving users the functionality to zoom in and out, advance pages, and highlight search terms all within the preview window.

Google Preview Wizard is free, and it takes seconds to generate the necessary HTML code (we know because we timed it). To get started, locate the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) associated with the publication – this is a 10 or 13 digit number found above the barcode on the book, itself. Plug the ISBN into Google Preview Wizard, specify whether you want your preview window embedded in your site, as a pop-up, or a link to another page. Google spits out the code; all you have to do is copy and paste in your webpage’s HTML, and you are done. Check out the preview we created below:


If you’re looking for an easy way to highlight specific book content on your site, Google Preview Wizard is just the ticket. Besides, who couldn’t use some “words of wisdom” to help bolster their product or service?

Google's Book Search API is open to tinkering developers, looking to create a custom solution. It includes access to the Data API, which performs the same operations as Google Book Search.

Google Preview Wizard provides a nice, meaty selection from the preview book, so chances are, you can refer your audience to a specific passage.

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  Start me up Blog by email with Posterous

Posted by tom klein September 2, 2008 at 8:55 am

Do you rely on a Blackberry or iPhone throughout the day and communicate primarily by email? Even so, you can still blog like a rock star.

You can use a service like Posterous. No sign-up or account required- all you need is email access and “[email protected]” in your address book.

When you want to post something online, email Posterous and attach your file(s). Posterous accepts documents, images, movies, and MP3’s. You can attach multiple files, as many as your email service lets you, and Posterous will create an image gallery on your Posterous page . Images are automatically resized to web-friendly standards and music and videos are put in browser-compatible players. The service even recognizes urls, turning them into links; so if you want to post a YouTube video, they’ve got you covered.

Before anything is published, Posterous sends a confirmation back to your email address- keeping Posterous impostors at bay and making sure you didn’t email the service on a whim. Your Posterous page automatically appears at yourname.posterous.com, in a simple, easy to read blog format.

Posterous is a free service and provides a simple solution for sharing information online. Ready to start blogging? Here’s a little video overview to show you even more:

With Posterous, you can autopost to other content publishing services like Twitter, Flickr, and blogging platforms. Twitter "tweets" display up to 130 characters and a link back to your post. Images sent to Posterous are automatically updated in your Flickr photostream.

A service like Posterous lets you become a web publisher with no html experience, and even more amazing, no computer. You can post to Posterous with any email-enabled mobile device.

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  Come and get it Convert your blog posts into Twitter tweets with Twitterfeed

Posted by tom klein August 25, 2008 at 11:21 am

If you’re taking the time to create a blog, it pays to invest in making sure that people can actually find it . . . even if they’re only reachable on their phone.

If you want to reach the people that use Twitter (yes . . . the Twitterati), you should just tether your blog to Twitterfeed. It’s an easy way to automatically twitter your blog’s RSS feed, blasting your friends and followers with updates as they happen. You may recall Twitter from our article Stay close to mother hen. In a nutshell, it’s a real-time messaging service that lets you broadcast “tweets”, or short messages. Unlike Myspace of Facebook, Twitter is meant to be a quick communication (or micro-blogging) platform. Tweets alert the world (well, your Twitter network) of your feelings, thoughts, or intentions.

Here’s how you get started: Sign up for a Twitter account or give Twitterfeed your existing Twitter login and password. Then, login with your OpenID account. OpenID is a service that lets you sign in to multiply websites with a single username, and like Twitter, it’s completely free. Once you are in, give Twitterfeed your blog’s RSS feed address and specify how often it should post your content (once daily is enough for a smaller blog).

Now all you have to do is post a blog article and watch as Twitterfeed alerts all your contacts of the update and gives them a link back to the article.

Twitter users can receive (as well as send) tweets on their mobile device or follow Twitter updates on their Facebook page, making the simple short message platform very attractive for all sorts of potential applications. Want to see if someone is tweeting about you, try looking for yourself on Twitter search.

While you may cater to your blog audience through RSS feed and email blasts, never underestimate the the power of personal connection. Your Twitter network is often comprised of friends and fans, people who take an avid interest in what you are doing.

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  Getting high Get content on-demand with writer’s marketplace Helium

Posted by tom klein July 25, 2008 at 8:10 am

Few companies can afford to keep a professional copywriter on staff, despite constant need for quality content.

Consider using an on-demand copy marketplace like Helium. Helium is similar to Odesk, the developers community we discussed in It’s a small world. Here’s how it works- publishers submit their article requirements (a brief description of the piece), choose a channel (a specific content category like Travel, Business, or Technology), then specify a deadline, word count, and cash prize amount. Helium uses a rating system to qualify writers, but any member of the community can take a stab at your piece. At the end of the competition, you choose among the submissions and award a winner.

Helium is an ideal solution for the company who can’t commit to in-house talent and doesn’t have the time or energy to sift through freelance portfolios. You choose content a la carte and there is no commitment to the writer who provides the material.

All Helium article submissions are protected by the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), which means you are entitled to the same rights as any other professional, published writer. If you discover that your work has been plagiarized, you can make a claim against the magazine or newspaper that published your work as it is fully copyrighted material.

Helium uses a unique rating engine to democratically qualify and rank their writers. Similar to Google, they won't reveal their true secret sauce but tell us that the number of articles written, publisher feedback, and a "leapfrog" system (a way for writers to improve the low ranking of an article already published) are the key ingredients.

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  Who loves ya, baby? Design your site’s brand favicon with favicon.cc

Posted by tom klein July 23, 2008 at 9:20 am

Often, a brand can be distilled down to a single visual cue, like the Nike swoosh or the Apple, um, apple. Every opportunity you have to include a visual identity cue should be seized, and one incredibly easy way to do this is with a favicon. Favicons, short for favorite icon, are the small images that appear in the url bar beside a website address and next to a page title in a browser tab.

You can use a tool like favicon.cc to create your little visual cue in just a matter of minutes. The fastest way to create your brand favicon is to upload your logo into their system. It will convert it to the correct size and format. You may need to do a bit of tweaking to get it just right. You can also animate your favicon by creating multiple designs and timing their evolution.

Don’t let this easy way to connect your URL to your brand identity pass you by.

While this service will help you create your tiny icon (designed one pixel at a time), you'll still need to arrange to get the little image loaded onto the main directory of your webserver. Also, note that MS Internet Explorer supports only the Windows icon (ico) format, most other browsers support just about 16x16 pixel image format (JPEG, GIF, PNG).

While creating a favicon for your site is an easy thing to do, many well known brands seem to drop the ball. Take Ford Motor Company for example. Their iconic logo is oddly absent from the url bar.

What is a favicon?
Thanks to the Dotcom Cowgirl (check out her cool favicon) for recommending today's idea

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