Saturday, June 23, 2007

Create your own personal news agent

Setting up a news alert on Google Most of us have topics we follow with special interest, being it for job reasons or personal interest. As more and more content comes online, the web is often our most obvious source. Thanks to News Alerts from Google this is easier than ever, despite the enormous amount of online content.

The easiest way to set it up is to go to Google News and search for the term(s) you're interested in. In the results page you will find alert options in the left hand margin; either web feeds (marked cryptically as RSS and Atom) or mail alerts. How often the web feed is updated depends on you feed reader, but mail alerts can be set to once a week, once a day or "as they happen".

It may pay off to fine tune your search terms. A search for ABB may get you news about the Allman Brothers Band as well as the urban guerrilla Alexa Boncayo Brigade. Searching for [ABB -boncayo -brothers] will solve that. If you're searching for a term like Web 2.0 or Fred Kindle, you should enclose them as "web 2.0" and "Fred Kindle" respectively, else you will get all articles with the two terms, but not necessarily together. Also remember Google does not differentiate between upper and lower case.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Netvibes - creating order out of chaos

The Netvibes logo"Wow" was the most frequent comment from my colleagues in Corporate Communications when we had a hands-on training session in using Netvibes during our staff meeting last week. The site is a so-called web aggregator, bringing together web feeds from all the sites you're interested in and presenting them in one easy-to-use page - your own personal web portal.

An easy start and a very intuitive user interface makes it possible also for less web-enabled users to tailor the site to their own needs. In addition to picking and choosing between the pre-configured web feeds, it's also easy to include your own feeds from sites you come across. In addition you can easily decide how each feed is displayed; Number of items, with or without further details and whether a click on the link should show you a summary or go directly to the article referenced. You can easily move items around the page by clicking and dragging.

Using Netvibes - which I understand is a French invention - you can easily collect all the web feeds you are interested in, into one easy-to-access page. Anyone following a topic - like I'm following web issues - can over time build up a library of useful web feeds, that in one quick glance can give you an overview of every important news item or comment available on the web. Take a look - I am sure you too will say "wow"!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Create your own search engine:
Google custom search launched

Google has launched "Custom search", giving you the possibility to create your "own" search engine, by tweaking the ordinary results form Google. You have two options, either create a list of domains and URLs to be searched and exclude all others, or you can link URLs you want to promote in the search ranking while still including all ordinary Google results in your search.

As you would expect, the tool is extremely easy to use, and once you have supplied your list of sites, the resulting code is delivered within seconds, ready to be used on your Google homepage or pasted into a web page or a blog, as I have done in the left hand menu here.

Your list of URLs can changed at any time, and you can also invite "collaborators" that have access to add further URLs to your list.

Give it a try, all you need is a Googlemail account to get started. If you don't have one already you can sign up here.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Are you blocked from YouTube?

YouTube iconI have received reports that access to YouTube is "blocked according to ABB IS Security policies" for some users when they try to access the site while on the corporate network.This is the first time I have heard anyone having security issues with YouTube and the like. Obviously there may be a network capacity issue if employees were sitting around idle watching funny videos on YouTube all day, but security?

In the real world YouTube is fast becoming a critical business tool. There is lot of valuable information available at that site and the ABB organization is also actively using YouTube to post company videos. Many pages on our sites have embedded videos from YouTube, and it is obviously a pity if some of our own employees cannot watch them.

All of the blocking reports I have received are from Scandinavia, i.e. Sweden, Finland and Norway. YouTube works fine from Switzerland, Germany, US etc. Do we have a different security policy for different countries in ABB?

The blocking messages I have seen contain a (Swedish) phone number "In case of questions please contact the IS security Manager at +46 21 323 XXX." If you get this message on your screen I suggest you call that number and ask for an explanation. Maybe that will help us understand why this policy has been implemented?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Welcome to Zurich on September 12: Help us prepare next generation of ABB's intranet

(UPDATE 28 AUGUST: This event has been moved to October 16)

What should ABB's future intranet look like? This is the subject of a conference arranged by Corporate Communication and Global Web Management in Zurich on September 12. We hope to enlist participation from all interested parties in ABB; The issue of knowledge management, internal communications and social networking goes far beyond communications.

Make room in your calendar now, we'll get back with more information as the preparations progress.

Follow this doodle link to register for the conference and make sure you get furhter information as it becomes available.