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Bookmarklets roundup

USEFUL BOOKMARKLETS provided by a few popular on-line services are featured in this week's column.

As featured in an earlier edition of NetSpeak, a bookmarklet is a small JavaScript program that can be placed on a browser's `bookmarks toolbar.' Generally, it is used for doing repetitive tasks directly from the browser like accessing a web-based service, posting on to a blog and the like. For example, if you type this simple JavaScript code `javascript:open (`http://hinduonnet.com/biz');' on to your browser's address bar, it will open the Hindu's business page on a new browser window. This code can be kept as a JavaScript URL that can be attached to the browser toolbar by just dragging the link on to it. Once the bookmarklet is on the browser's tool bar, you can invoke it whenever you need to do the task for which it was created by just clicking on its icon.

Of course, the JavaScript code mentioned above is actually not of much use as it does not achieve anything great. But one can write more useful functions that enable her to do various web navigation tasks with ease.

Here is a simple script for searching the Google, against the search string `p2p': `javascript: void (open(`http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=p2p')); This script can be placed on a web page as a URL (bookmarklet link) and you can keep it on the browser's bookmark or attach it on to the browser's toolbar. Once it is connected to the browser's toolbar, you can invoke the bookmarklet anytime you would like to invoke the specified Google search without having to visit its site.

In fact, many useful bookmarklets developed for accessing several on-line services directly from your browser are in place. Here, we will have a look at some of them.

Google button

We have seen how one can create a bookmarklet to start a search process for the string `p2p.' Obviously, this is useful only for a specific situation and so is only of limited use. We need a search bookmarklet that can be used against any string specified by us on the fly. The bookmarklet `Google button' has been created for this purpose. Once the bookmarklet is installed on your browser, anytime you want a Google search for a string from a web page, just select the string from the page and click on the `GoogleSearch' button.

Bloglines bookmarklet

Bloglines is a very popular on-line news aggregation service that allows you to subscribe to news feeds of your choice and displays them on a personlised web page. Generally, to subscribe to a feed, you need to go to Bloglines site, log-on to it and go through the `Add' subscription process. To avoid this cumbersome process, you can use the Bloglines subscription bookmarklet, which can be used to subscribe to a feed directly from the browser. Check out: http://www.bloglines.com/help/easysub.

TinyURL bookmarklet

Links with long URLs are difficult to handle and many on-line services that can shorten the lengthy URLs are available. TinyURL (http://tinyurl.com) is one such service created for compressing long URLs into small ones. To use the service directly from your browser, you can use the bookmarklet `TinyURL' available at: http://tinyurl.com/#toolbar. While on a page whose URL is too long to manage, just click on the `TinyURL' button. You will immediately get a small URL for the current page's web address.

Gmail bookmarklet

A Gmail user will certainly find the Gmail bookmarklet available here: http://www.briansexton.com/writings/journal/70, quite handy.

The Dictionary service (http://dictionary.reference.com/) is another on-line service used by many netizens. To use the service with ease, try out the bookmarklets provided for its various services (http://dictionary.reference.com/help/linking/bookmarklets.html).

Bugmenot (http://www.bugmenot.com/index.php) is an on-line service that helps you skip the registration process to read articles from sites that require compulsory registration. Bugmenot also provides a bookmarklet for invoking the service directly from your browser.

You may also check out the pages such as `SearchEngineWatch' (http://www.searchengineshowdown.com/bmlets/), `Search Bookmarklets' (http://www.squarefree.com/bookmarklets/search.html) and Milly's Bookmarklets (http://www.imilly.com/bm.htm) that host several bookmarklets for some popular on-line services.

Findory `Source Pages'

Findory (http://findory.com/) is a news service that culls news articles from a multitude of on-line news sources, combines them and then presents the news items on its home page. As mentioned in an earlier issue, the uniqueness of this service is that it monitors the articles you read through its site and using this feedback, each time you visit the site it provides a more personlised page with content tuned to your taste and requirements. Recently, as per this blog (http://alexedelman.net/2004/11/findory-source-pages.html), the service has added a feature called `Source Pages' for providing more information about its articles' sources. Findory has a page for each of the sources in its database. A source page contains resources such as articles currently available on the source, list of other similar sources and a collection of related articles. Along with each article on Findory, you can find a link to the appropriate source page (under the article's title).

Algebraic equations

It is more than three weeks since the beta version of the new MSN search engine (http://beta.search.msn.com/) was launched. While using the service, this author stumbled across an innovative feature. The capability of the service to solve algebraic equations is really a brilliant one. For example, load the search box with the expression, (12x{circ}2 + 13x + 5 = 10) and click on the `Search' button. The service will solve the equation and provide you with the values of `x' that satisfy the equation. If you are a regular MSN Search user, it is likely that you get some useful tips by visiting the MSN search's blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/ msnsearch/). Google has hosted many downloadable tools on its server that include Google desktop, Google toolbar, Gmail notifier and Google Deskbar. Instead of downloading each one of them separately, now you can download all of them together with a single click. Check out: http://www.google.com/downloads/.

J. Murali

Email the author at: murali27@satyam.net.in

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