This edition of NetSpeak takes a re-look at bookmarklet, a simple, easy to use browser based tool.

It is common knowledge that web navigation can be made more efficient if we customise our browser with appropriate plug-ins, add-ons (like Firefox extensions) and the like. Bookmarklet is one such tool that bolsters the browser power.

Despite being a simple and easy to use technology, the concept of bookmarklet is yet to be popular among lay netizens. NetSpeak has featured this technology in the past — The Hindu of December 3, 2003 and The Hindu of December 6, 2004.

A brief intro for those who are still not familiar with it follows.

As many of you may be aware, apart from the ‘http’ protocol, modern browsers support protocols such as ‘mailto’, ‘ftp’, ‘javascript’ and so on.

The javascript protocol helps us run small javascript programs that can perform a variety of tasks inside the browser. From simple tasks like changing the colour of a web page to more complex tasks like shortening the URL of the current web page, accessing Gmail in-box with a single mouse click can be easily accomplished with this technology.

A javascript URL (a URL with the ‘javacript:’ protocol — instead of the more familiar ‘http:’) placed on the browser’s bookmark folder is called a bookmarklet. In other words, a bookmarklet is a bookmark with an executable javascript program. When you click on a normal bookmark, it takes you to a web page. But when you click on the bookmarklet it executes a program on the current web page. Like browser add-ons, bookmarklets also enhance the functionality of the browser. An advantage of bookmarklet is that there is nothing to install and it takes little browser resources (unlike a browser extension, for instance)

Several nifty bookmarklets meant for changing the orientation of the current page (like the ‘Readability’ bookmarklet, which helps us read web pages rather smoothly) are available.

Fontfriend that allows one to easily experiment with different types of fonts/font styles inside her browser is yet another example of a bookmarklet of this type.

Most on-line services now offer bookmarklets that enable us to access those services with a single mouse click. The advantage is that we can access those services without shifting from the page being viewed. The bookmarlet provided by the service PDFmyURL is a good instance. This bookmarklet allows us to convert any web page into a PDF file with a single mouse click.

If you are not keen to use a tool to download youtube videos, the bookmarket, ‘download from youtube’ might help.

Twitter posting has become an irresistible on-line endeavour for many savvy netizens. Several services offer bookmarklets meant for this purpose as well. Twitsnip and Twitlet are some examples.

Of course, locating bookmarklets that serve specific requirements is not that easy. One solution is to seek the help of bookmarklet repositories (like Bookmarklets.com - mentioned in the past). In this context, you may find the repository Marklets quite handy. If you need a bookmarklet for a specific purpose, say downloading youtube files, just invoke a search on Marklets by entering the search string (in this case, for example, ‘youtube’).

Instead of having a bookmarklet meant for a single task, why not create one that can be used to do multiple tasks? This seems to be the thought behind the promoters of the bookmarklet Quix. This multi-functional bookmarklet comes bundled with a set of commands for doing a variety of tasks. This bookmarklet lets you do several on-line tasks such as searching various search databases (like Google and Wikipedia), finding domain registration information (who is) and the like. The only shortcoming of this bookmarklet is that you need to memorise commands for each of the tasks. Another feature of this tool is that it allows you to add your own commands and thereby extend its functionality (this author has not yet tested this feature).

Video aggregator

As mentioned in the past, there is no dearth of educational content on the Net. A plethora of educational videos from a variety of sources are being released on a daily basis.

The information abundance in this realm could be confusing to an ordinary student. Some kind of mechanism that can cull the on-line educational content and organise them under different subject heads would certainly be helpful. NalandaU, the free on-line educational content aggregation service, is an attempt in this direction. Here, you will find different types of lecture videos on a variety of topics. Along with videos relevant Wikipedia pages are also attached with some courses. In addition, the service offers tools for taking notes and communicating with other fellow learners too. As the content aggregation is done manually, it is quite likely that you get relevant content.

E-book search service

It is common knowledge that digital versions of books on almost all subjects are available on the Net (both free as well as priced). In the past, NetSpeak has profiled several search engines meant for finding on-line e-books with ease. In this regard, you may check out Inkmesh, an e-book search engine that helps you find relevant e-books (and compare e-book prices across the Web) on the subject of your choice. If you are interested only in free e-books, Inkmesh provides the facility to restrict the search to such books too.

Namechk

The growing awareness on the significance of social media has resulted in a frenzy to become member of different social media channels. Having a proper/unique address in the preferred social media channels is also an important aspect for consideration.

After hitting on a desired name one should know if it has already been taken or not. The on-line application Namechk that checks for username availability at multiple social sites (around 132) could come in handy here.

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com

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