Virtual Karma

Monday, January 30, 2006

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Google Toolbar Custom Button Tutorial

Have you installed the new Google Toolbar v.4 Beta? If yes, then you must have noticed the custom button feature. Read all about it on the Google Toolbar Features page. Did you try creating one for your website? I did, and it took me something like 10 minutes. Want to try it? Go to the FAQ page and check out the last question.

This new feature is a boon for web developers like myself who don’t want to create a whole toolbar for simple functionalities (these days every website wants your to download their own toolbar. Finally you have more toolbars and less screen area to actually browse).

Want to create your own button for your website? Read on. Let me show you how I did it. Before you start make sure you have a favicon. This tutorial will teach you how to get one. If you don’t have a favicon your button will look like a Google button.

(If you would prefer to read the API documentation directly from the Google website, I have linked it at the very end of this article.)

Step 1. Right click on the search box for your website and choose the option “Generate Custom Search…” option. See image below

Follow the instructions and you will have a button added to your toolbar as shown below.

Step 2. Click on setting and go to the advanced editor. See images below.


In the editor enter the following line as shown in the image below:

<feed refresh-interval="3800"></feed>

If you have an ampersand in the path above you will encounter an error as shown below.

Just replace the "&" with "&amp;" and it should fix the error.

(Note: this is a good time to save the XML file. Copy paste the content into a notepad and save with .xml extension. We will use this file in Step 3)

Click the “Save to Google Toolbar” button and you will see the see the feed added to the button you created in Step 1. See image below.

Step 3. Save the XML file to a location/directory on your web server. And use the following line to link to your own Google Toolbar Button:

Publish this link and let the world add your button to their own Google Toolbar.

Step 4. This step is optional, but wont hurt. Submit your custom button to the Google Button Gallery

That’s it! You are all set. But please note that this is a basic button and you can do much more with API documented on the Google website. Check out the links below. If you have any questions I will be glad to help. Please let me know if this tutorial helped you.

Related Links

Google tutorial: Create your own buttons
Full Google Toolbar API

Thursday, January 26, 2006

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Safe and Secure Browsing Using Windows XP + IE

So you are running Windows XP and use Internet Explorer to browse the web?
This article assumes that you have your own reasons to stick to your OS and
browser and hence I won't ask you to switch either of those. Following are the 3 steps for a safe and secure browsing experience for Windows XP + IE user.

Step 1. Go to Windows Update website. The website will authenticate your OS and then check for updates. Download the latest updates and install them. The site will automatically do most of the tasks for you. Just follow instructions. If you had any major updates pending you will be instructed to restart your computer. Do that and then repeat this step again till there are no more updates. Often you have to execute this step more than once if you didn’t have automatic updates enabled.

Step 2. Go to Security Center in your control panel and make sure that your Firewall, Automatic Updates and Virus Protection are all ON. If you don't have an Antivirus software installed the Virus Protection will be set to OFF. Click on the recommendations button and Windows will show you a list of Antivirus software, some of which are free upto 12 months. (I use the one from Computer Associates). After you install run a complete scan.

Step 3. Go to Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) website and install the program. Follow instructions and make sure that you have real time protection turned ON. After you install run a complete scan.

You are all set. But that's not the end of the story. Every time you visit a malicious website it will try to install a program (ActiveX). IE will block it and warn you. You have the option of instructing IE to install it anyway. Be wary of doing it. Unless you trust the site completely refrain from installing any such programs.

Happy and safe browsing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

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what kind of music do you listen to??

havent you been asked this question your friends and your prospective girlfriend??
If you find it difficult to answer that question, theres help! Jason Freeman has created a software that analyzes your iTunes library for a couple of minutes and creates a unique music signature, that summarizes the kind of music that you listen to. Its free and easy. Next time someone asks you that question, just email that person your iTunes signature!

Check out

Friday, January 20, 2006

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Google News: Recommendations

Google News has started recommending news. I went to and was surprised to see new recommended section. Checkout the screen shot below.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

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Complete List of Web 2.0 Applications

Following is an alphabetically sorted list of popular Web 2.0 applications. The description for each of the application is taken from their own About or FAQ pages.

43 Things
43 Things is great for making a list of goals. It’s a way of connecting with other enthusiasts interested in everything from watching a space shuttle launch to grow my own vegetables.

Allmydata harnesses the power of grid storage technology to securely store your email, photos, music, movies and more.

Make a page out of an idea. Then add free-form text, to-dos, notes, photos, files. Share pages with other people. Set email and mobile phone reminders so you don't forget.

Basecamp is a unique project collaboration tool. Projects don't fail from a lack of charts, graphs, or reports, they fail from a lack of communication and collaboration. Basecamp makes it simple to communicate and collaborate on projects.

Import and manage Your Bookmarks - in the Blink of an Eye. Create Watch lists to See What Your Friends Are Discovering Online. Follow the Wisdom of Crowds and Discover What's Hot Now.

We categorize and rank blog articles and blogs in real time, providing up-to-date information on the hottest blog entries.

Create a Calendar That You Can Access from Anywhere. Keep it private, share it with others or publish it on the Web

Central Desktop
Central Desktop is ideal for teams and businesses that operate in distributed locations or virtual office environments.

Clip and save just the stuff you want from any web page. Create your personal online collection of clipmarks. Tag them with keywords, add your own comments and share them with friends. Search the Public Clipmarks to see what's being clipped and who is clipping it.

Democracy 2.0
Democracy 2.0 is a political science research project dedicated to effecting Pervasive Democracy and direct, nonpartisan resolution of community issues in U.S. states and localities.

Digg is a technology news website that combines social bookmarking, blogging, RSS, and non-hierarchical editorial control. With digg, users submit stories for review, but rather than allow an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do. is a collection of favorites - yours and everyone else's. Use to keep links, share favorites with friends, family, and colleagues, discover new things.

Our personalization technology builds a homepage for each reader, recommending content based on what they've read and what new content is being published. We crawl through thousands of news and blogs articles so you don't have to.

Flickr - almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world - has two main goals: 1. We want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them. 2. We want to enable new ways of organizing photos.

Instead of having multiple blogs across multiple sites, gabbr allows bloggers from all types of blogs to submit their thoughts for discussion in a centralized location. The blog entries are also mirrored on the original blog authors website.

Gmail is an experiment in a new kind of webmail, built on the idea that you should never have to delete mail and you should always be able to find the message you want.

Google Maps
Maps are great for getting around, but online maps could be a lot better. So Google decided to make dynamic, interactive maps that are draggable — no clicking and waiting for graphics to reload each time you want to view the adjacent parts of a map.

Slow, featureless online calendars are so Web 1.0. Kiko is a cool new web calendar that delivers all the functionality of desktop calendar software, and all the convenience of online access. And it's free!

We hope that meebo makes everyone’s online life a little easier (and more fun!) by aggregating all of your IM accounts in one place, cleaning up all of your chat windows into a single window, and the best part -- no software.

The Web is humming with discussions on politics and current affairs. memeorandum is page A1 for these conversations. Auto-updated every 5 minutes, it uncovers the most relevant items from thousands of news sites and weblogs.

Netvibes is a customizable web 2.0 homepage solution. This service is free and gives you the user the ability: To create a personalized page with the content you like. To put together data feeds and services from web 2.0 applications with a very simple interface. To access your page anytime and from any computer.

Omnidrive is what you expect hosted storage to be - easy to use, accessible from anywhere and unrestrictive. Omnidrive will make your life easier by allowing you to store, access and stream your files from almost any web connected platform.

Protopage = personalized news + sticky notes + bookmarks, all on one page. Use it to catch up with news from hundreds of sources. Put color coded sticky notes, todo lists and reminders. Keep your frequently accessed bookmarks. Share parts of your page with friends, or keep it private.

Rallypoint is a powerful online collaboration service that can be used to create, organize and share your company's knowledge. It enables you to build web-based documents and pages to share with your team members or other teams.

A source for what's new and popular on the web -- personalized for you. We want to democratize the traditional model by giving editorial control to the people who use the site, not those who run it. Your votes train a filter, so let reddit know what you liked and disliked, because you'll begin to be recommended links filtered to your tastes.

Remember The Milk
Remember The Milk is the easiest and best way to manage your to-do lists online. Sharing, publishing, notes... we've got it all. Receive reminders via email, instant messenger, and SMS. It's free.

Shadows is a social bookmarking service for discovering, sharing and managing information on the web. Shadows supercharges this information with a "Shadow Page" — a community blog for any web page that includes views, ratings, tags, and comments by you, your friends and the Shadows community.

this site is not an officially supported site. it is an incubation experiment and doesn't represent any particular strategy or policy. for other incubation experiments, see enjoy!

Ta-da makes it easy to... Keep track of all the little things you need to get done, Make lists for other people (co-workers, friends, family), Share lists with the world ("My favorite movies of 2004"), Subscribe to your lists in RSS so you're always on track.

TailRank finds the best content from thousands of blogs so you don't have to. TailRank is a small startup based out of San Francisco which has plenty of cool ideas and too much free time.

Topix was founded in 2002 with the specific mission of providing users the ability to quickly and easily find targeted news on the Internet. With thousands of news sources continually releasing stories twenty-four hours a day, finding relevant news can often be a time consuming task.

Advanced task and priority management for busy, ambitious individuals. voo2do tracks priority, due date, and time estimates for each task. There is no notion of "lists" in voo2do— tasks can be grouped by project, but you can view and edit a bunch of projects together. Voo2do does not yet support sharing your tasks with other people.

Writeboard makes it easy to... Write without fear of losing or overwriting a good idea Compare different versions of a document Collaborate with colleagues on copy, proposals, memos, etc. Subscribe to documents via RSS and be notified of changes.

Writely allows you to edit documents online with whomever you choose, and then publish and blog them online.

5GB to unlimited gigabytes of online storage. Accessible from any web browser. Easy, efficient file sharing. Protect critical data from crashes and viruses. The best solution for storing and sharing online.

Online tool to create a document, edit in your way, and share with anyone. Access Anywhere, Share, don't attach, Generate PDF/DOC/HTML, Create and edit document in your way, Load your existing documents, Multi lingual Support, No more duplicates, Post to your Blog.

On Zoto, you can safely store an. organize an unlimited number of digital photos, with total control over who has access to which of your photos. You can share your photos with family and friends through albums and slideshows. You can quickly and easily publish photos to your blog.

If you know of any popular Web 2.0 applications that are missing from the above list, please post it as a comment and we will keep this list going. Also let me know if you found this list useful.

Update (Friday Jan 20th, 08:30 PM): This post got dugg to the front page of sometime yesterday morning. I appreciate all you comments and diggs. This list would not be “complete” without your comments. While posting I had intended to update the list with more applications that you suggest. But I’m overwhelmed with the number of sites in the comment section. I apologize that I don’t have enough time to research and get information about all of them. I recommend that all readers read through the comments to discover more Web 2.0 applications.

I now blog at ctrl+alt+startup. I'm trying to build a startup from scratch. Follow me. While you are there join the facebook page and interact with the community. If you have a startup write about it on the wall.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

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New year 2006 - Chicago fireworks

Here is a video of the Chicago fireworks on the eve of New Year 2006. I was at navy Pier with four of my friends. The crowd was awesome.

Friday, January 06, 2006

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30 second tutorial: Post to Blogger from your .Net application

This is a short tutorial that will teach you how to post to a blogger account from your .Net application. The code is in Visual basic.

Sept 1: Use Atomizer

Get Atomizer. Drop Atomizer.dll in the bin folder of your application.

Step 2: Create the Atom instance

atomEndPoint = ""

generator = New generatorType
generator.url = ""
generator.Value = "NewsterToolSample"
generator.version = "1.0"

Dim Atom As Atom
Atom = Atom.Create(New Uri(atomEndPoint), generator, "username", "password")

step 3: Get the services from the Atom instance

Dim services As Array
services = Atom.GetServices()

Dim postURL As New String("")
postURL = service.postURL

Step 4: Post

Atom.PostBlogEntry(postURL, " Title of your article ", "body of your article", "")

Thats it.

Here is a working example and here is the source code for the working example.

I have used the above technique in the first version of For those of you who are not familiar with, it’s a news aggregating application. I had shared hosting with Brinkster and it worked just fine. Just drop the Atomizer dll in the bin folder and use the above code.

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A fresh start...

My new laptop arrived today. It’s a Dell Inspiron 600m with 2 GB RAM, 80 GB HDD, DVD burner, 64 MB Graphics card, SXGA screen and lots of pre loaded junk software. Why would Dell load it with 60 day trial applications? I don’t know. But this is the best my $1150 could buy. So I’m not complaining.

I’m starting 2006 with a clean slate. If you noticed, I deleted all my old posts. I know I shouldn’t be blogging when I’m drunk. Ok, it was not the alcohol, it was the spammers. I have not been blogging for quiet a while now and the spammers took over. Most of the previous posts had tons of comment spam. So I got rid of them, by deleting the posts. Most of the articles were dated anyways. So here I’m, starting all over again.

Over the next few days I’m expecting my Google PageRank to plunge from 4 to 0. It would be interesting to watch how that goes.