Cool Tools at IL2008

One of the talks I try never to miss at Information Today conferences is the Cool Tools for Webmasters talk by Frank Cervone and Darlene Fichter. This year I couldn’t attend due to other talks I had to give, but Darlene has posted her links online for us all to see!

Frank and I were back with more free or inexpensive tools for webmasters and everyone who uses the web. This time we emphasized backups (and more backup tools), security, some tools for usability and accessibility and design. We also included a list of some all time favourites at the end. The slides (from slideshare.net ( a cool tool) are included below along with the links to the sites. If you enjoy cool tools, check out our past presentations to find more.

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Fun Domains

I always look at the new web 2.0 type domains (del.icio.us, etc) and think – how the heck did they come up with that? Now, those of us that are a bit less creative can still come up with neat domains for our new sites:

DomainFinder is a web application for webmasters which helps you to find fun domain name. For example, if you type Beta tester, DomainFinder will suggest you “beta.test.er”!

Thanks DownloadSquad for pointing this neat tool out.

Spellr.us

Via TechCrunch:

Spellr.us monitors webpages by running site-wide spell checks at regular intervals. Results are presented as snapshots of pages, with errors highlighted in bright boxes (a mouse-over displays suggested corrections). Members can also choose to have errors sent to them in RSS feeds – a feature that will be especially handy for large sites that make frequent posts. Besides the visual snapshots, Spellr.us can list misspelled words according to their frequency across the site. This means that words like TechCrunch or Flickr, which are commonly used but aren’t in the dictionary (yet), can be quickly found and added to a custom dictionary.

Very handy sounding!! Check out the private beta.

A call for help

Karen Coyle has a great post on her site where she calls for help on creating “An easy, online, social library catalog.” Why another cataloging tool? Karen has recently returned from Kosovo where many of the library don’t have catalogs and certainly don’t have the resources to run many of the affordable solutions out there. Here’s Karen’s checklist:

  1. A social networking site where the society members are libraries, not individuals.
  2. The ability to capture copy cataloging from other libraries or create cataloging on the site itself.
  3. Full Unicode support, both for the interface and for the data.
  4. The ability to capture and create records using a MARC-compatible format.
  5. The ability to export the library catalog records in MARC format.
  6. A reports function that could print off the results of searches or even the library’s inventory, so it could be used off-line.
  7. The creation of groups of “library friends,” that is other libraries whose data should be included in searches and displays. This will facilitate sharing and also will serve users in areas where resources are scarce and scattered.
  8. A search and display interface that looks like a modern library catalog
  9. It all has to be easy to use with no training required, and not require any technical support on the part of the library.

Read Karen’s entire post and if you think you can lend a helping hand, let her know.

PHP Webinars

I know I’m not programming in PHP anymore – but that doesn’t mean that some of you aren’t. Thanks Ray for pointing out these webinars for PHP programmers.

Webinar: Part one – Seven Steps To Better PHP
January 09, 2008 – Your computer via Webex

Webinar: Part two – Seven Steps To Better PHP Code
January 23, 2008 – Your computer via Webex

Learn more.

Academic Library Website Survey

Via Web4Lib:

Primary Research Group is planning to publish a survey of academic library websites. This survey is restricted to college libraries, including 2-year, 4-year and university websites, and is open to the academic libraries of all countries. The survey should be taken by the library website webmaster or other individual knowledgeable about the day to day workings of the college website. Participants receive a free PDF copy of the estimated 100-page report. Your library would be listed as a participant but all data is presented in aggregate categories and not broken out by library. Data is broken out by type and size of institution for easier benchmarking. To take the 50-question survey, follow the link below: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=m1JNHTZoltnC0nQDEa3amg_3d_3d

Amazon’s Remodeling

Last night I was updating my wish list on Amazon and I know that the site didn’t look like it does this morning.

New Homepage

In the top right they invite us to see what’s new:

Amazon Remodel

Looks prettly slick – guess I’ll need to poke around some and see if it’s more usable – since re-designs are all about improving usability in my book!

[update]If you don’t see the new design it’s because things are still in transition. From the FAQ:

Why do I see the new design on my home computer but not at work?

We’re still in our testing phase, and you may not see the new design all the time.

[/update]

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Finding Library Events

As most of you know, I’m new to this area. I’ve driven past a library on my way to the grocery store that has a sign out front for a book sale. This morning, I wanted to find out more info about this event, but my county’s library website is beyond horrible. In today’s day and age, with free web design tools available all over, I’m shocked to see a site like this. The long and short of it is that there are no events listed, so I probably won’t be able to support my local library unless I go grocery shopping before the book sale and stop to read the sign out front.

It’s things like this that get me angry enough to want to help the library innovate – but if I take on one more thing right now I might burst!! Maybe after I finish working on the website for the Greater Philadelphia Law Library Association (GPLLA) – another site that’s sorely in need of some updating – but, nowhere near as bad as my local county library system!

[update] While I stand by my comments about poor design – part of the problem was a plug in I have on Firefox that disallows javascript from running without my permission – for this reason the site I saw at home did not have a menu system at all – which brings us to ask is this site accessible?

Anyway, thanks to the anonymous commenter for pointing this out for me. [/update]