Friday, March 13, 2009

Some neat bookmarklets

Would you like to convert a Web page to a PDF file? One way to do that is to install a browser add-on from The add-on lets you choose to have the converted page emailed, opened, or saved on your hard drive.

Or, instead of using the add-on, you could use the bookmarklet. The bookmarklet does not require installation, works with most browsers, and will not slow your browser down or consume memory. It can even be stored on the Internet for access from any computer. However, it lacks features of the add-on -- it does not offer the option of emailing or saving the PDF file; it just opens it.

Bookmarklets are similar to add-ons, but they may have fewer features. They are small JavaScripts that execute when you click on their icons in the bookmark toolbar. Here is the code of a simple bookmarklet that re-sizes the browser window to 800 by 1,000 pixels (which would be useful if you were preparing a series of same-size screen shots):

The script is a bit longer because it calls the PDF conversion service using their API:
There are tons of useful bookmarklets, and you can see a list of some of the best at this excellent Digital Inspiration post. If you start using bookmarklets, you will also like this post.

What is your favorite browser add-on? What is your favorite bookmarklet?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Three extremely simple Web services

The first day of class, we ask "what is a network-based application?"

Examples provide a partial answer -- a starting point. We do not want to be bogged down in details, so we want very simple examples. Here are three:

Eggtimer is a simple application where the program is stored on the network and downloaded each time it is used. Go to for a five-second timer or go to the home page for other options. demonstrates an application in which the program and data are both on the network. With a couple of clicks, users can upload and share text, recordings, images, etc. Here is an example.

( is surprisingly useful for such a simple application).

Aviary screen capture is a third example. You can capture and then edit any page on the Web by simply typing in front of the http:// in the page URL.

For example, to capture the YouTube home page, you would enter:
Aviary automatically downloads the captured page image and an image editing program written in Javascript. Since Web clients contain Javascript interpreters, you can edit the page image when it gets to your computer.

Do you know of other network-based applications that are as simple to use and demonstrate as these?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

AT&T mobile Internet access -- $480 per gigabyte when over the cap

We have seen that the price of sending a cell phone text message far exceeds the cost. What about mobile data plans?

An Oklahoma City woman is suing AT&T because her first month phone bill was over $5,000.00. She had subscribed to a $60 per month AT&T data plan that was capped at 5 gigabytes. She exceeded the cap the first month, and felt she had been deceived when the bill arrived.

The AT&T plan states that if one exceeds the 5 gigabyte cap, they are charged "$.00048 per kilobyte."

Would she have exceeded the cap if the price had been quoted as "$480 per gigabyte" or, better yet, "$350 to download a CD" or "$2,500 to download a DVD?"

Why does AT&T charge $12 for each of the first five gigabytes and $480 for the sixth? Do you think she should have to pay the bill?