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Midweek Miscellany: 3 Free Useful Tools

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Generally speaking, when I’m sharing recently discovered web tools, I try to organize them along a common theme, or a goal that they can be used to achieve. This time around, I just wanted to share three somewhat unusual, but genuinely useful, web tools with you. Trying to fit them into a specific theme or goal would only detract from their myriad possible applications, so without further ado, here they are:

printfriendly — Make Any Site Printer-Friendly

Many sites nowadays will have a “printer-friendly” button, which often just strips the web page of any fancy CSS and gives you a bare-bones text document that won’t eat up too much of your precious ink or toner. I know that for all the recent web site work I’ve done for clients, I always make sure to include just such a version. Unfortunately, not everyone does the same.
Picture 13For those times when the button is missing, and printing the web page with images, etc., would result in too much of a dent in your ink supplies, there’s printfriendly. All you have to do is enter any URL into the field on its main page, and you immediately get a stripped-down version which you can then print or save as a PDF. Webmasters can also get the code for a printfriendly button to use on their own site, so that they don’t have to code a printer-friendly version for themselves.

Geek Chart — Show Off Where You Share Stuff Online

Ever wonder whether you share more stuff on Twitter, YouTube, Flickr or your blog? Geek Chart can help you find out, and then display that info to others in an attractive, easy-to-read pie chart format. Just enter your information for the relevant networks you want to measure (Facebook is unfortunately not yet available), and Geek Chart generates a color-coded pie that shows how much data you have associated with each account.

Picture 14Mine is currently heavily skewed towards Twitter, but that’s because if you read the fine print, it only takes into consideration your last 30 days of activity. If you spend a lot of time on your social network content, this might be a great way to show visitors to your own page exactly where your attention lies, and what might therefore be the best way to reach you.

trackle — Track Anything, Anywhere on the Web

Google Alerts are a great way to stay up to date with a favorite subject or news category. I have a variety of both blog and news alerts set up so that I receive regular notifications via email when something noteworthy goes on in my areas of interest. Trackle aims to do the same thing, but adds more oomph than Google Alerts is currently capable of.

Picture 15For example, you can keep abreast of crime in your own neighborhood, or job postings, or even your own web presence (good for those of us who make our business here). Through trackle, you create “tracklets”, or customized web crawlers that return custom information to you based on criteria you specify.

There are tons of pre-made tracklets available to choose from, and you can receive alerts in a number of different ways, including via web through trackle’s own interface, through your phone via SMS, or through email. Also, you can specify the frequency with which you receive updates, and choose to either get them as they occur, or as a collected package once daily.

These tools may not be particularly powerful, nor do they provide any kind of revolutionary service. They do, however, perform small, potentially useful tasks well, and they’re free, which is more than reason enough to consider adding them to your toolbox.

Found any cool tools recently? Let us know in the comments.

5 Responses to “Midweek Miscellany: 3 Free Useful Tools”

  1. Jacques Menou

    The last one in particular is very useful! Bye-bye Google Alerts.
    I found the search tool Twoquick over the weekend and have been loving. Finally I can search Google and Twitter together and see them side-by-side. Great to get a pulse of what people are saying about something that I’m looking up on Google and both types of results have useful links to more info.