Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What IS a YubNub?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I came across this nifty little web artifact at the suggestion of a friend and since then I have found its uses many and indispensable. The system is known as YubNub (I know not why) and it is a simple "command line for the web" that is also "social." I'll go over each of these separately.

First of all, YubNub operates in a way similar to command line code. This is the code used to directly control the aspects of an operating system (often Linux users are heavy command line users). YubNub commands are similar to these OS commands in the sense that anything you can do the long way in a browser, you can do the short way with a simple command.

Here's an example:
Let's say I want to do a Google image search for pictures of dogs. I could go to Google's Images website and enter "dogs" as my query:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

While this is all fine and dandy, if I routinely do this, going to the site every time does take up a good number of page loads. What if I could just go directly to the results and skip going to the Google Images page? With YubNub I can.

First of all, I have made up a little shortcut for entering commands. While they can be entered directly at YubNub.org, I find this defeats the purpose so I have installed the YubNub search engine plug-in in my search bar for Firefox (actually I use Flock, but the process is the same). I should note that incidentally the guy who suggested YubNub to me wrote this particular plug-in.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Once I have the plug-in installed, it's easy to find all the pictures of dogs I want. I simply type "gim dogs."
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And presto, I have results:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

While this code does have a certain syntax to it, it is easy to learn. This is because of the "social" aspect. Each prefix code was invented by users who simply had a need for quick access to some site. Examples are "g" for Google Search, "gim" for Google Images, "gifl" for Google I'm Feeling Lucky searches, "wiki" or "wp" for Wikipedia search, and "ls" which lists the other thousands of available codes. Don't see a rather obvious code for a site you frequent? There is a feature to add new codes as well. The best codes are selected by the people who run YubNub and are known as "golden eggs," indicating their intrinsic value.

I hope you guys like this service as much as I do and please leave comments about what you think of it.

Note: Screenshots via Images.Google.com, YubNub.com, and my browser (Flock).

Blogged with Flock

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Never fear...finals are almost over!

I just want to assure readers that there will be more posts coming soon...finals are almost over and then I'll be good to go with all the holiday tech news you can handle.  Specificially look forward to a bit about YubNub and the new Hulu video distribution system for NBC shows.

Hope everybody got through their finals alright!

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Even the Internet Memes are on Strike!

While I'm stressing over finals, I thought I'd put up a nifty little clip that tells of the strike being held by the various internet meme animals. If you don't know, a meme is basically a piece of media or culture that gets passed around by people...see Star Wars Kid. Anyway here's the video and yes that some version of Chocolate Rain in the background. Support the strike!

As a side note, I've done some digging and determined that at least with YouTube videos, it is quite legal to play embedded videos on one's blog. Basically the only provision is that you not make the video the entire selling point of the website (which I HOPE is not the case here...). Anyway, if you're bored, here are the sites I researched to find out this fun piece of info:
YouTube Terms of Service (do a word search for "embed")
Embedded Video and Copyright Infringement (from the Citizen Media Law Project)

I love good, solid online resources. Later!

Blogged with Flock

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tech in the GOP YouTube Debate

So, the Republicans had another debate? Does it really matter...who won...who lost? Sadly, if you want to know THAT you'll need to Google it (or actually watch it...), because I'm going to discuss the technology aspects of this new debate format. You see, this debate was different from most because it was comprised almost entirely of questions sent in via YouTube. The idea of this is to allow "regular citizens" to get their questions answered directly by the people they are to vote for.
GOP Youtube Debate Question(screenshot from the list of YouTube questions asked)

My first criticism actually occurred a few months ago as I mentioned the Democratic YouTube debate. Do follow the link, but basically my complaint was that CNN made a poor choice by videotaping a screen playing a low-res video. Not only did this further wash out the picture, but it also made it even smaller than we're used to. This time, thankfully, CNN chose a different layout and played the video in picture, but at a size appropriate to the viewer's screen. The videos were much easier to make out. If they really want to up the ante next time they should display the videos at their original higher resolutions (which YouTube has mentioned they keep when videos are originally uploaded).

The next thing that irked me was the way in which the debate was actually disseminated. I was unable to watch the debate live because I had to go to a meeting in the middle. This meant that I was completely at the mercy of YouTube and CNN if I wanted to actually watch the debate. After it ended, I expected to be able to find the debate on CNN.com. Of course, I was disappointed and had to settle for some random clips of it that had been assembled instead. I wasn't completely suprised by this because often networks don't post their shows directly after they air. Even still I was unable to partake in their content and I can't see why they would want that. Next, I searched YouTube and was surprised to see that either no one posted it up or YouTube had taken down all relevant clips. [Thanks to the magic of blog editing and the help of a commenter, I need to correct this last bit...it turns out that YouTube did post the whole debate, it just wasn't clear to me that it was not just the questions asked, but the whole debate...sorry YT!] It was not until about 18 hours later that CNN was gracious enough to grant us fully continuous files of the debate. I think this turn around time is far too long to be excused by the need to edit or reformat the video. Also, the files downloaded fairly slowly because of their size, which makes me wish the networks understood why torrenting is so popular.

I will say that I enjoyed the debate, or at least as much as a moderate like myself can enjoy watching Republicans fight over who is more conservative. The questions did seem to be a little more carefully picked than last time and did not produce any really explosive arguments. The one content-related thing I didn't like was that contrary to the Democratic YouTube debate, where the candidates used their own videos as a way to describe themselves (in the sense of an introduction), the majority of the Republican created videos which were blantant attacks against the others standing next to them. That came off to me as cheap.

Anyway, enough editorial. This is my last "syndicated" article through the Broadside Online until the end of winter break, so if that's how you've found Mason Tech Beat, please add me to your RSS feed list or bookmark this site! I'll still be writing some throughout the winter, but I'll go ahead now and say have a safe and happy holiday!

Download the GOP YouTube Debate
Watch the Individual Questions Asked

Blogged with Flock

The content of this page is completely the creation and opinion of James Rogers. He is affiliated with Connect Mason and formerly Broadside Online but the relationship only governs republication, not content.

Further, in the interest of full disclosure, this author holds minor financial investments in Apple, Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices.