Tuesday, 23rd January 2007
A Quick Intro and Overview of Personalized Web Page/Start Page Service: Pageflakes
The idea of building and then maintaining (two separate concepts) a personalized home page or start page is not a new one. My Yahoo has been online for years and over the past couple of years we've seen Google, Live.com (Microsoft), Ask.com's MyWay and numerous others offer this type of service. Personalization of news and blog results are also around with services like Findory. Unfortunately, we learned about a week ago that while Findory will remain online and usable, it's no longer being developed.
Lately, people have started to ask us about Pageflakes. Good call. We've started to use and appreciate the development going on at the company .
It's a service (free) that in our opinion is worth checking out if you want to build a dynamic personalized home/start page.
In a few words, PageFlakes is powerful and easy to use. In other words, it's something that even a novice user could get a handle on in a matter of minutes.
We could write thousands of words about what is available at Pageflakes. However, we think it’s better that instead of reading about Pageflakes, you spend that time visiting and testing for yourself to see if it meets your needs. If it doesn’t, there are plenty of other tools to try.
+ Registration requires only an active email address and password. You're up and running in a matter of minutes.
+ From the outset, you have the option of sharing your page. You can change this choice at any time by clicking the arrow next to "My Page." Pages can be totally private, shared with specific people, or made public. The decision is yours.
+ Interface available in five languages.
+ To remove anything on a page, simply click the "X" at the top of each item on the page.
+ You can have a personalized start page plus as many additional pages as you like. You should see tabs for (My 2nd page, My New Page, Add Page) at the top of each page.
+ Definitions (Look for these links in the upper right corner of a Start page):
What other sites call “widgets.” Here's a directory of the 139 "Flakes" available as we post this item. New ones are online all of the time.
Today, a Flake was added for JahJah, a service that allows you to make free or inexpensive long distance calls directly from your Start Page.
Another "Flake" of possible interest to both educators and/or students is a Grade Tracker.
Pageflakes also serves as an RSS aggregator/news reader. Clicking the "add Feed" button offers about 373 pre-built feeds. However, adding any RSS feed is as easy as taking the RSS URL and pasting it into the "add your own" box. You can also import an OPML list and create Pageflakes bookmarks.
Now, after you've added a few Flakes and Feeds, it's possible to customize.
For example, one Flake we have on our page is a "to do" list. Clicking the edit button allows me to specify my time zone. Clicking the arrow maximizes or minimizes the page. Clicking the "X" link removes the Flake. Be careful.
When it comes to Feeds. You're able to:
+ Click the two arrows to immediately update the feed.
+ Click "edit" to change the number of headlines visible, where to open the post if clicked (new window, new browser, etc.).
+ Select how many headlines are visible (up to 25).
+ Show description (the first 10-15 words of post), show navigation.
NOTE: If you choose not to show the description, you can simply mouseover the headline to see the first sentence. Make sure that the "show tooltip" option is checked.
Finally, make note of the "settings" link in the upper-right corner of a page. Here is where you can change your password and also select one of six color schemes. Also, the FAQ is loaded with facts about the service. For example, if you need help changing from a two- to three-column view, it’s easy; the documentation has the info.
So, score another one for Web 2.0. Here’s an easy-to-use resource that might be of value in the library, classroom, and elsewhere. Worth a look and the price is right. Btw, Pageflakes carries no advertising on any of its pages. It will be interesting to see if this changes moving forward.
POSTSCRIPT (1/26): GigaOM Reports that Dan Cohen, Formerly the Person in Charge of My Yahoo, is Now the CEO of PageFlakes.
Thanks to Barry Schwartz for the news tip.