27 January 2011

New Twitter expanding short URLs

Shortened links have probably been one of the factors that fueled ’s explosive growth and have in turn benefitted from it. But their biggest advantage holds at the same time possible security threats, since the user cannot see where the link is pointing. Over time many solutions for expanding them appeared, from sites to scripts and Twitter clients. Now, it looks like Twitter has introduced the feature in it’s web version: hover your mouse over a short URL and the tooltip will reveal the original link. It’s similar to the concept presented some time ago by Chris Messina, although without the ability to copy the expanded URL.  Twitter expand short link on mouse hover

I’m not sure how long ago the feature was introduced; I don’t recall reading about it anywhere and I rarely use the Twitter website. I prefer to alternate between Brizzly and TweetDeck for Chrome, both of them having different advantages over native Twitter. But since the surveys are showing that most users are checking Twitter through the site, it will be a welcomed addition for them. Personally I still prefer the way implemented URL expansion, replacing the short URLs inline. This makes it much easier to scan the addresses and enables you to see the destination and browse tweets with keyboard shortcuts at the same time.

25 January 2011

So I got the New Facebook Messages. Now what?

Launched amid a big media hype, touted as the future of communication and a possible “Gmail killer”, the New Facebook Messages finally made it’s way to my account last week. So let’s see what it has to offer!Facebook New Messages

24 January 2011

Mozilla’s “Flight of the Navigator” demo

As the browser makers are implementing the newest and shiniest in HTML standards, a parallel competition is running to showcase the advances to the public, to present the own product as more performant and standards-compliant. Even the runner-up in this race, Internet Explorer, launched an entire site to prove it’s more or less catching up or even surpassing other in some areas. With the launch of beta 8 for Firefox, another interesting demo based on HTML5 became available to the wider public: “Flight of the Navigator”.

We built the demo in order to integrate and showcase the various JavaScript libraries and browser features we were creating together. As a result the demo exploits a number of features in HTML5, namely, <canvas>, WebGL, <audio>, and <video>. It also uses some of our JavaScript libraries (CubicVR.js, processing.js, dsp.js, beatdetektor.js), as well as the various JavaScript speed and feature improvements in Firefox 4. Finally, the demo is driven by the new Firefox Audio API to synchronize the audio and 2D/3D visuals.

Built by the Mozilla #audio hacking team, it’s aim is to show how the new standards can reduce the reliance on plugins for rich online content, with a little help from hardware acceleration. If you visit the live demo here, you can see the page doesn’t use Flash or Silverlight, it’s only the browser doing the rendering. You can even right-click to open the usual context menu of the browser, just like on any webpage. Furthermore, when you resize the browser window, the demo resizes itself to match it – not something you regularly get with online video.

23 January 2011

Open Google Reader shared items in Buzz

didn’t get a particularly good start for the year, between the search being broken for a couple of days and the (accidental) removal from the Google navigation bar, which fueled speculation that the product could be abandoned or sidelined in favor of other projects. Despite the largely unjustified concerns, new features are being added all the time. Just today I noticed the shared items have a new ‘Options’ menu in the lower half next to the comments section. Google Reader open shared item in Buzz

Right now, there is a single option available: ‘View this shared item in ’. It’s a good step to integrate the two services better. Personally I only skim the top items in Buzz, since I prefer to read the full story in Reader, but some extra features of Buzz are missing; you can’t follow the conversation easily without leaving a comment, you can’t edit your own comment or get the URL of someone else’s. It’s not a perfect solution, but this new option addresses some of these annoyances. It would be nice to see the menu expand with some of the most requested features for Google Reader, like loading the full article from partial feeds or the comments from the original post.

05 January 2011

Connect Quora to Google Buzz

If you’ve got caught up in Quora’s perfect storm, the site itself might not be enough. You probably want to spread the word about it on other social networks, to bring more people in. Quora lets you easily share answers on and , but unfortunately Google Buzz users are left out. Which naturally led to a question on Quora: Is there a way to link Quora and Google Buzz?

One answer, as already added, is to subscribe to the (not dead yet!) RSS feed from the Quora profile through and then share individual posts to send them to Buzz. Not exactly ideal, since it requires a lot of manual intervention and it looses the ‘real-time’ coolness everybody seems to want these days.