Power.com helps manage multiple social networks with ease

power_logo

The Internet has never been more social and the large number of social networking sites popping up every other day is a testament to this fact. Not a day passes by without the introduction of atleast a couple of social networks. And social animals that we are, most of us like to be active on more than one network. But, as most of us realise, managing those account becomes a nightmare pretty soon.

Power.com is here to save the day for all you social animals. It is an interesting tool. Instead of working with and adding to the feature set of a particular social network, Power.com, lets the user login and stay active on all the networks that it currently supports.

power_networks

What that means is that a user who logs in to power.com will be able to interact with all his/her contacts across facebook, orkut, hi5 and myspace from right within the power.com window.

muo_login

While the interface could have been better, the integration of the all the different networks that it supports is pretty consistent. One can see all messages from the supported networks on a single page and also see all your friends on the same page. Power.com displays this information in a layout which looks a lot like the default orkut homepage, although the color scheme is different and very easy on the eyes.

power_main

power_msgAnother interesting feature Power.com offers is the ability to send a message to any of your friends without even visiting their profile or scrapbook. Just hover over the friend’s name and a menu appears which will let you send a message directly.

In fact, you can reply to any messages that your friends might have sent you right from the Start Page of Power.com itself. No need to open multiple windows and having to login to different networks.

Power.com also provides a toolbar which is claimed to work on anything newer than IE 5.0 and Firefox 1.0.1 and provides access to most features without even visiting the website.

Oh yeah, before I forget … if, for example, your administrator has blocked access to orkut.com at your school/office, Power.com will still let you access orkut since the actual site will be opening inside of the power.com window.

Are there any other social networking tools that you guys use to manage your online presence ? Anything that aggregates different networks and provides a single view ?

2 Gmail Labs features that make Gmail rock even more

I love Gmail … There … I said it. And I love the Gmail Labs feature even more. I’ve written an article on some of my favourite extensions earlier on MakeUseOf.com, And this post will talk about two more awesome extensions that I have been using for some time now.

The team at Google has slowly but surely been picking up steam with their plans of world domination as is evident from the two new Labs gadgets they’ve released, Google Calender and Google Docs.

Google Calender has long been the online Calender of choice for a lot of us, including yours truly and I, for one, love it as much for its simplicity as for the features offered at the price point, i.e. Free ! Now, who can argue with Free ! No seriously, I use Google Calender all the time and features such as SMS notification of events absolutely rock my world.

It is disappointing that Google Calender hasn’t been integrated even more with Gmail. Well, guess what ! Google has been listening and Google Calender is now available as a Labs gadget and can be integrated into the Gmail user interface. It isn’t perfect but, hey, its a start.

Now, that’s one tab less in your browser. The calender entries are displayed in a nice and compact interface which feels just right and integrates well with the Gmail UI. This extension definitely brings Gmail one step closer to competing with desktop email clients like Outlook/Thunderbird.

Another great Google product is Google Docs. I use it for colaborating with my collegues, for planning my next himalayan trip and for almost everything that, well, an office suite can be used for.

The latest addition to Gmail is the Google Docs gadget. With this gadget enabled, you can see a list of the documents that you have created in Google Docs and work on them from inside Gmail.

Well, not really but it is close. Clicking on any document name will open a new browser window and take you to the Google Docs homepage with the said document ready to be edited/viewed.

The Google docs gadget is functional, useful and is a nice way to keep your most used documents in sight.

Google regularly updates Gmail with new Labs gadgets and if you use or know of any other useful gadgets, let me know in the comments.

Convert youtube videos online for free

I have a confession to make. I LOVE youtube.

So ? Whats so great about it, you ask ? Everyone loves youtube.

Well, yes and no. Everyone likes to spend time on youtube, watch a dozen videos everyday and then move on. I, on the other hand, actually like some of those videos enough that I like to take them with me and play them back on my iPhone/iPod video.

Unlike some other video sharing sites, though, youtube doesn’t offer an easy way to download videos for offline viewing.

There are a ways to download videos from youtube to your personal computer and then convert them to a format which the iPod can play back, but they’re all just inconvenient hacks. They work, but not if you’re in a hurry and are not really in the mood to play around with the countless options that tools like ffmpeg (which, by the way, is an excellent open source video converter) support.

This is where ConvertDirect comes in.

ConvertDirect is an easy to use and free online service for converting youtube videos to one of the many video formats it supports.

Just enter the link to the youtube video and chose the format you want your converted video to be in. Type in your email address and ConvertDirect will send you an email with a link to the converted video. The link will be live for 48 hours during which time you can download the video from their servers.

If you only want to use a desktop player like vlc to play back the videos offline, then click on the “Download the online video directly” tab and download the video to your computer.

Converting youtube videos for offline playback couldn’t have been simpler and more convenient than this.

Go ahead and download all those music videos great educational videos you’ve been waiting to watch and take them with you on the road.

Are there any other great online-to-offline software that you guys use ? Cool websites ? Let us know in the comments.

Google Knol – Wikipedia killer or just another hubpages.com

So, Google launched Google Knol today and the whole blogosphere is talking about it. That’s understandable. It’s not everyday that Google releases a new product which gets its own sub domain. But, what I don’t understand is: why is everyone, including reputed blogs like Lifehacker, Problogger and others calling it a wikipedia killer ?

I think that this is just another way for Google to display adsense advertisements on the internet. And the real competitors are sites like hubpages.com which work on almost exactly the same model, that Google Knol is working on. You know, the model where you write something on someone else’s site and include advertisements in it and hope to earn some money. The difference is that this is Google and the reason why people are worried is that Google might give a preference to one of it’s own sites when displaying search results for a particular topic, rather than displaying, say, a wikipedia article, which is what comes up now if you search for a lot of generic topics.

But, I don’t think this will be the case. Even if Google tries to give a preference to it’s own sites, a backlash from users will probably contain Google’s evil plans and if Google still doesn’t agree, most users, including I, will happily move to another search engine. Infact, looking at the kind of knols that Google is hosting right now, most of them are not the kinds that would be competing with wikipedia articles. It looks exactly the kind of content that hubpages holds.

So, I think the blogosphere should just relax and let Google roll out another product and another way for the publishers out there to make money 🙂