Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thank you for the freebies!

We are now taking a break from gadgetology and rumoralia to thank some of our favorite free services that we have been using on this blog for free. The least we can do is thank them in public :-)

Irfanview is a free and popular image viewer and editor that we use to quickly and easily perform basic tasks for this blog (eg screen-shot teasers). You can finish simple tasks in IrfanView long before Photoshop even finishes loading in memory :) If you want to thank the author of IrfaView, he has some hints ;-)

Thanks to Flickr for their free services as well. Through Flickr we are able to deliver the Reader Picture Showcase, where we thank our readers by showcasing their pictures on this blog. All you have to do is submit your Flickr pictures to our flickr pool.

Statcounter is a modern-era web-counter service and it is available for free. It shows you how many (if any) people are reading the site/blog, and things like that. They have a free service but if you want bigger logs, they also have for-pay plans.

Firefox is the official browser of this blog and we use it for most of the internet activities of this blog. Okay, we just needed an excuse to praise Firefox :)

Not to be confused with GoDaddy, Poll Daddy is our current favorite free polling service. The service is flexible enough that you can include in blog posts or embed in the blog's template. They also have for-pay plans if you want more features (eg unlimited surveys).

Rss-to-Javascript is one of the many tools that allow you to convert a feed into a list of items on a webpage or blog. We are using it in the Noisy River (100 most recent posts), and list of camera announcements.

Who's Amung Us is a quick and easy way to find out if anyone is actually reading your site or blog. Oh the pain of the big zero? This is probably the easiest thing ever to install, there is no registration or setup, you just cut/paste the code on your site/blog! You may recognize it by their red-on-black logo.

AdSpeed is a high-speed hosted ad-management service that lets you manage your ads professionally. The nice thing about AdSpeed is that they have a fully operational demo on their site, so you can actually test-drive the workflow without even registering. They have a free service, and a free fully-functional 10-day trial. The for-pay plans are scalable and range from $10 to infinity and can be adjusted on the fly depending on your traffic. That is perhaps one of the rare cases where paying more is a good thing in a way ;-) More details at Adspeed.com, or if you want to support this blog, please use the affiliate link here.

We started using Feedburner to burn our full-text feed before it was taken over by the Big Google. This is a great way to organize and manage your feeds, especially for those of us who do not have a fully staffed IT department :)

We went through a stage of Web 2.0 bookmarklet madness, and our favorite two free services for bookmarklets and RSS feed buttons were AddThis and Add to Any. You have probably seen them in various websites and blogs, those tiny cutesy little buttons!

NetVibes allows you to create a home-away-from-home website using multiple input sources. You can create private and/or public pages if you like. We are using NetVibes to provide alternate views of this blog, including a list of posts by manufacturer name, posts from each blog, and posts sorted by topic. It's also our Plan B in case of technical issues with this blog.

Last but certainly not least, we have to thank Blogger for the free blogging service and infrastructure, which is greatly appreciated by those of us without a fully staffed IT department.

These are just some of our favorite free services since we started this blog. We will thank the rest in a future thank-a-thon!

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