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November 7, 2006

Zamzar - Free online file conversion

This is one of those “why didn’t I think of it first?” ideas. Zamzar is a free web site where you can upload a file, select a compatible format, and it will email you the converted file.

It’s great for times when you can’t open a file because you don’t have the right application installed on your computer. You can also use it to convert files to Acrobat .PDF format.

Zamzar is simple, easy to use, very useful, and free. What more could you ask for? (Well, actually it would be nice if you could immediately download the converted file from their web site without having to wait to receive the email. But I suppose the reason they’ve implemented it this way is because it would be too hard to keep up with the demand in real time.)

Posted at 2:53 PM in Computers

November 4, 2006


WebSnapr is a cool website that makes it easy to create a thumbnail image of any web site.

You generate a thumbnail by simply using a special Websnapr URL that contains the URL of the web site you want to create a thumbnail of. They make it a piece of cake to add thumbnail previews to external links on your website. Hover over the Websnapr link at the beginning of this entry for an example.

Posted at 1:55 PM in Web Design

Free Visual Web Analytics

Most web analytics programs display their data as text in a tabular format, or, if you’re lucky, as charts and graphs. A couple of new web analytics programs are out to change that by offering services that visually display the statistical data on top of your web site.

The first of these new breed of web analytics programs to appear on the scene was Crazy Egg. Crazy Egg allows you to view an image of your pages overlayed with a heatmap showing the most frequently clicked areas. Or use the “overlay” mode to quickly see what percentage of the total page clicks each individual link receives.

SiteShots is the newest competitor in this arena. They provide very similar features to Crazy Egg.

Both programs work basically the same. You add a couple of lines of JavaScript code to your web site that silently track clicks and gather data behind the scenes. You can see the visual results from your account on the respective web sites. Crazy Egg recently emerged from their beta period, but SiteShots still appears to be in some form of beta or preliminary state. Both companies offer limited services for free, with more robust services for paid plans.

Posted at 1:15 PM in Web Design

November 3, 2006

Free phone calls with Skype using your regular phone!

Lately, it seems that there’s a new VOIP service coming out every other day.

Earlier this year, Skype announced that, at least until the end of this year, anyone could make free SkypeOut calls to regular phones in the U.S. and Canada. This was very exciting and finally convinced me to buy a headset for my computer so that I could use Skype. I’ve tried to pass this tip along to many of my friends and family, but have found that most of them can’t take advantage of it because they don’t have a microphone for their computer.

Just the other day I found out about another VOIP service called JaJah. They describe themselves as “web-activated telephony”. From their website, you can enter in your home phone number and the number of the person you wish to call. Their system then rings both phones and initiates a conversation between the two of you. And what’s more, it’s free—as long as both you and the person you’re calling are regular JaJah users and you’re both in each other’s contact books. On top of that, they also require that you don’t exceed their “fair-use” policy. That’s great and all, but what if you want to make free phone calls without the limitations of JaJah?

Yesterday it occurred to me that you can use Skype to make free “computer-activated” phone calls between two regular phones. This way there aren’t any of the restrictions imposed by JaJah’s service. The secret? Use Skype’s conference calling feature to initiate a conference call between your computer, your home phone, and the phone you wish to call! Your home phone will then ring and you’ll be connected to the person you wish to call.

Posted at 6:40 AM in Technology | Comments (1)