Add a Subscribe Button to your Facebook Profile

Like most other Facebook users, I have a public page where I share updates from my blog and a personal profile which is private and I primarily use it for connecting with my offline friends and family members.

Most of the stuff that I share on my personal Facebook profile – like pictures of kids, songs, cooking recipes, etc. – would be extremely boring to the external world and, fortunately, they don’t get to see any of that.

Having said that, I occasionally post updates on my personal profile page that could be of interest to a wider audience and I would therefore be more than happy if people - who are not my “friends” on Facebook - can see or comment on them. How can you do that without making your profile public?

Facebook Subscribe

Let Non-Friends Follow you on Facebook

Facebook has just added a new option to profile pages that would let people “subscribe” to your profile just like the way people follow you on Twitter. Whenever you post an update on Facebook with the privacy set as “public,” it will appear in the news stream of your subscribers.

To put this in more simple terms, Subscribe is to Facebook profiles what Like is to Facebook pages. The only difference is that you get each and update when your “like” a Facebook page whereas you only get public updates when your “subscribe” to a Facebook profile.

You can subscribe to my public Facebook updates at facebook.com/agarwal.amit.

Add the Subscribe option to your Facebook Profile

If you would like to add the Subscribe button to your own Facebook profile, go here. Before you do that, it may be a good idea to double-check that only stuff that you really want to share with non-friends is public.

To confirm, go your Facebook profile page, hit the “View As” button and then click the “public” link to see what updates in your profile are public. You can have unlimited number of subscribers to your profile but you can subscribe to a maximum of 5,000 profiles.

You can download this PDF, courtesy the Facebook Public Figures page, to learn more about the new Subscribe option and how it differs from a regular Facebook page.

On a related note, Facebook is using the standard RSS icon with the new Subscribe feature which is confusing because, technically, these aren’t really RSS feeds – you can’t get them in, say, Google Reader.

facebook profile vs page

Also see: Customize your Facebook Profile

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Add a Subscribe Button to your Facebook Profile, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 14, 2011 under Facebook, Internet.


A Xobni Alternative for your Microsoft Outlook

Xobni, if you are new, is a popular Microsoft Outlook plugin that lets you know more about the sender of an email. You get to see the sender’s picture, Linked profile, tweets and, if public, their Facebook profile right next to the email message. Xobni probably uses the sender’s name and email address to bring this information and it is quite efficient at that.

If you write the word Inbox backwards, you get Xobni. If you write Evil Xobni backwards, you get Live Inbox – that’s exactly the name of a new Outlook plugin which is showcasing itself as a better alternative to Xobni. The feature set is similar and so is the UI - compare the screenshots of Live Inbox with Xobni below to get an idea.

xobni alternative

Live Inbox – A Xobni Alternative or Clone?

If you have used Xobni before, you’ll have absolutely no trouble getting to speed with Live Inbox as this new program has lot in common with Xobni.

Once you install the plugin, you need to connect it with your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. It then offers a rich profile of the email sender in the sidebar, much like Xobni, and if there are multiple matches, you can pick any of the matching profiles manually.

The bottom half of the Live Inbox sidebar displays a list of email messages and file attachments that you have exchanged with the sender in the past. Xobni does this as well. There’s a unified instant search box to help you quickly find contacts or one of your old emails. The Live Inbox website says that it returns search results “50 times faster than Outlook” though I did not experience that difference in my testing.

Live Inbox is expected to become available for $29.95 though you may use this link to download the free 30-day trial right now. Xobni is available in both free (that’s what I use) and paid edition that costs $9.99 per month.

Live Inbox does mostly work as advertised - I tried it on Microsoft Outlook 2010 running on a Windows 7 machine - and, because of the one-time fee, it may appeal to Xobni Pro users who otherwise have to pay $9.99 per month. If you are using the free version of Xobni, I see no reason for making the switch. That said, I find it amusing that the company, which has only created an almost exact replica of another successful product without much innovation, is still calling their inspiration “evil.”

Here’s an ET Now video where Mahesh Murthy and Sudhir Syal discuss Live Inbox from the funding perspective. The website has no information about the founders but it looks like a product of Instacoll, the same team that worked with Sabeer Bhatia in the past to create Live Documents, an online office suite.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, A Xobni Alternative for your Microsoft Outlook, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 14, 2011 under Microsoft Outlook, Software.


Start an Email Newsletter in Minutes using TinyLetter

Are you an industry expert (like Om Malik) or a content curator (like Maria Popova) who’s looking to start your own email newsletter that you can publish on-demand whenever you have something interesting to share or say?

You have several options to choose from but if you need a newsletter service that is really easy to setup, doesn’t cost a penny and, more important, one that gives you an option to charge email subscribers a recurring monthly fee for them to receive your interesting shares, check out TinyLetter.

tinyletterGetting started with TinyLetter is simple. Pick a unique username – this will become the sign-up URL for your email newsletter – then sign-up with your email address and your newsletter is ready for people to subscribe.

TinyLetter offers a Gmail-like WYSIWYG editor for composing your email newsletter. Once you send an email blast to your newsletter subscribers, they can also reach out to you by replying to that newsletter but without knowing your actual email address. Basic stats - like how many how many times your newsletter was opened – are also available inside TinyLetter.

One of the most interesting feature of TinyLetter is subscription. You may set a fixed monthly fee for your newsletter –like $5 per month - and people will have to make the payment via PayPal before they can actually become a subscriber. Subscribers are directly taken to PayPal once they put their email address in the subscription form.

email_newsletter

You can either receive subscription payment directly into your PayPal account, or if you do not have a business account with PayPal, TinyLetter can collect the money on your behalf which can then be transferred to your personal PayPal account.

Letter.ly is another paid newsletter service but it uses Amazon Payments instead of PayPal.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Start an Email Newsletter in Minutes using TinyLetter, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 14, 2011 under Email, Paypal, Internet.


How Apple can add a Printer to their iMac

imac printer

While Apple may have no plans of adding printers to their product line-up, someone has this creative idea on how printing capabilities can be integrated inside the sleek and beautiful body of an iMac. While this is obviously a prototype done in Photoshop, it can possibly be used for scanning documents as well without adding an extra machine on to your desk.

Picture credits unknown. Found via @SmashingMag.

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, How Apple can add a Printer to their iMac, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 14, 2011 under Mac, Gadgets.


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Tools that Detect Changes on your Favorite Web Pages

Last month, my story about Facebook hitting a trillion page-views received an unexpected amount of interest around the web. I obviously don’t have inside sources nor did anyone contact me with those numbers – so how did I get the news about the trillion milestone before anyone else on the web?

The answer is simple. I use a web monitoring software that tracks a list of web pages (URLs) at set intervals and alerts me whenever content is added or deleted from these pages. In the above case, the monitoring utility was watching a page on google.com and the moment Google uploaded the new numbers, I got an alert on my desktop.

webpage monitor

Tools for Monitoring Web Page Changes

The utility that I have on my Windows machine is called Website Watcher from Aegnis.com – a single-user license for the basic edition of Website Watcher is about €30 and it supports all types of web addresses including secure http and ftp based URLs.

A web monitoring tool, in simple English, works something like this. You specify the address (URL) of a web page that you would like to track and how frequently the tool should ping the given page to determine if the content has changed.

In the case of Website Watcher, you can also visually specify the portions of a page that should be ignored for tracking (like the sidebar or the footer). Later, if the tool detects that a page has changed, you can compare the before and after versions of the page side-by-side and, like any other diff tool, the changed text is highlighted for quick comparison.

Website Watcher works well but if you are looking for a free alternative, check out NotiPage. This is again a Windows-only utility for monitoring web pages with basic monitoring features except for one limitation - NotiPage only highlights the new content that has been added to a page but you won’t be able figure out what has been removed from a page.

If you are monitoring a page that follows a regular pattern – like a Google Search results page where all the different results are rendered as a pattern using a similar set of HTML tags – you may also use Google Docs as a page monitor. You essentially scrap the page content into Google Docs with the help of ImportXML function and then track changes through RSS. This does however require some knowledge of XPath and CSS.

Versionista is another awesome web-based tool for tracking web pages. It lets you compare the two versions of a page side-by-side and thus you can know what has been added, or removed, from a page since you last viewed it. Versionista also lets you apply regular expression based filters to help you specify what kind of page edits should be ignored by the tool during the comparison.

Also see: Create RSS Feeds for Google Search Results

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Tools that Detect Changes on your Favorite Web Pages, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 12, 2011 under Web Pages, Software.


Turn your Google Docs into a Fax Machine

fax google docs

While there are dozens of web-based services that let you send and receive faxes from the computer without requiring a fax machine, Interfax goes one step further – it turns your Google Docs into a complete fax machine.

You just have to connect your Google Docs account with Interfax and once the link is enabled, you can fax any of your existing Google Docs documents, or spreadsheets, to any fax number in the world right from the browser. You may even send the same Google Docs file to multiple fax machines in one go – remember to separate the different fax numbers / Google Contact names by commas.

The cost for sending faxes from Google Docs varies according to the destination country and the length of the document. For instance, if you are to send a fax to US, the cost would be 13¢ per page, 15¢ for UK while a single page fax to an Indian number would cost you 60¢. There’s no monthly fee for sending faxes though you’ll have to buy minimum credits for $10.

GinzaFax is another online fax service that is built around Google Docs. It is slightly more expensive to send faxes through GinzaFax – the cost 40¢ per page for US numbers and 60¢ for other countries – but here you get a $5 free credit for sending faxes the first time you sign up for an account.

Other than sending faxes, you may also use both Interfax and Ginza Fax to receive faxes from anywhere in the world directly into your Google Docs account. The incoming faxes are automatically converted to PDF format and they get saved in a separate folder thus making it easier for you to locate them later.

Also see: Choosing an Internet Based Fax Service

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Digital Inspiration @labnolThis story, Turn your Google Docs into a Fax Machine, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on September 12, 2011 under Fax, Google Docs, Internet.