NextBus launched last week for Washington, DC. The system easily allows bookmarks for favorite routes but it doesn’t make it easy to take those bookmarks with you to your iGoogle home page. This is how you setup a new iGoogle gadget to show the status of favorite routes.
- Go to wmata.nextbus.com.
- Select your route, destination and bus stop and then a blue box at at the bottom of the page shows when the next buses will arrive. This is the piece we want to take with us to our iGoogle page.
- Click “Update page address so that it can be bookmarked.”
- Using your mouse, Right Click and choose View Page Source in Firefox or Chrome or View Source in Internet Explorer or Safari. This opens up a new window with the source code of the web page.
- The address needed is at the bottom of the page in an iframe tag. The quickest way to find it is to press Ctrl + f to access the search function. Search for iframe. The iframe looks like this:
width="80%" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="auto">
- Copy the web site address from the beginning through to the last part before “&css” because this is the direct link to the NextBus page for this route. In the example below the part to copy is marked in red text:
- Login to your iGoogle page and click on Add Stuff on the top right part of the page. Use the gadget named “iFrame” and then add it to your iGoogle page.
- Return to your iGoogle page, click the drop down menu for the new iFrame Gadget and finally choose Edit Settings. Use the settings in this example below. Most of the gadget’s default settings work but a few need to be changed:
src: Paste the source link from step 6 here.
Title: Give this gadget a name so it is easy to find on your iGoogle page.
Height: The default height is unnecessarily tall. Try a shorter gadget — 225 pixels worked well on my page.When you’re done click on Save.
- If everything worked your iGoogle page will now include a gadget showing your favorite bus route showing when the bus will actually arrive. Here is a screen shot of my iGoogle page with the new gadget showing NextBus for the 42:
- Here is this same bus route embedded on this web page to give you a live example:
- And if that isn’t cool enough — try going to your new iGoogle page on your iPhone or Android phone. There you’ll find your new gadget in all of its mobile glory:
Let me know if you have any issues with this or know of an easier way to access your favorite routes quickly.
Thanks to heryandotus for sharing his custom NextBus page since it inspired me to figure out how to do the same thing for those who aren’t web monkeys [via].
Tonight I called Social Security and found out that I needed additional facts before I could get the information requested. The phone rep told me they are open until 7 PM Pacific time and that I could call back before then. It was only through the bounty of being married and our phone from a different time zone that I was able to trick the phone system into providing customer service.
I compiled the requested info and called back at 7:20 PM Eastern Time (4:20 PM Pacific time) only to hear an automated message saying that the office is closed for the day. What?! While it was after 7 on the east coast it was not 7 PM yet on the west coast.
Not to be deterred, I tried to beat the system. My wife Amanda has a phone number from Colorado so I dialed with her phone and got right into the phone system and through to a representative. Apparently the office wasn’t closed if you live in Colorado but it is closed if you live in DC.
Next time you need to reach an office with a fancy automated system shielding you from real people, keep this trick in mind.
How often do you find out about an event that needs to be on the calendar but you are far from your organizer? Since you know I love tools that keep me productive I want to show you this new way to get things on your calendar by talking it into your phone. It works with a free service called Jott and the free Google Calendar. Here’s what Jott has to say about it:
Why is this cool? Because you can now create a Google Calendar event in a single step, from anywhere, simply using your voice. Just call Jott, say “Google Calendar”, and then the time of the event and what it’s about….and you’re done. We’ll take your voice, convert it to text, and insert it into your calendar for you.
I tested this myself and this video shows how it went:
[Jott and Google Calendar]
Jewelery shops have been on my mind recently and I’m happy to see a way to save some money when I make my purchases. According to the New York Times yesterday, Jewelery retailers are looking for ways to reduce costs and one of those ways is to have people use methods of payment besides credit and debit cards. Goodbye Visa, hello Paypal and Google Checkout!
Starting Nov. 26, customers who buy with PayPal will save 20 percent on their purchases, with a maximum discount of $50.
I’m going to try it since it is just as convenient for me to pay with PayPal as it is to use my debit card. It’s a win-win situation for the retailer and for me! Let me know in the comments if you have other tips for saving money using the web and new banking technology.
[Retailers Explore New Ways of Being Paid]
On October 1st a building a few blocks from mine had an electrical problem that caused a fire that destroyed the entire building (read the Post’s story about it here). Adam and I were talking about the fire that Monday night at tennis and thinking about complete destruction of one’s personal belongings seems to make photographers say that we’d grab our negatives and hard drives and run out of the blazing building. Forget clothes and furniture and our important files. It’s all about the photography, even the old crap stuff from early on.
The safer way to keep digital photographs around through fires, lightning strikes, hard drive failures or spilled drinks on the laptop is to backup the irreplaceable files off site. The idea makes perfect senese but I never seriously looked into doing it myself until that fire in the neighborhood.
I researched companies that provide online backup services and I am using one now called Mozy. I like it because they have a free 2 GB version that you can use with no strings attached. All you do is tell the software which folders or files need to be backed up and then when the computer is not being used it connects to Mozy’s servers and securely saves everything. If you add items to the folder then the new items get backed up in the subsequent backups. If you have more than 2 GB of critical files, photos or emails you can pay a reasonable $4.95/month for unlimited storage. That is some peace of mind! If you want to sign up for Mozy then do it here and we both get another 256 MB of free storage space.
What are you doing to backup your files? Are you prepared if your hard drive doesn’t spin when you wake up in the morning? Leave your thoughts & happy/horror stories in the comments.
[Mozy via Lifehacker]
I’m helping plan the 10 year high school reunion for the Science Academy of South Texas class of ’97 and I created some fun pictures of my classmates to use on the website. Here are some samples of the finished portraits:
[see more after the jump.]
I want to see how few minutes I can use on my cell phone this month while still maintaining my typical level of conversation with friends and family. Oh, and the voice quality needs to be good so people I call don’t get dropped or ask me why the connection sounds bad. Here’s the plan:
- Keep track of how many minutes are being used. The minutes used will be always at the bottom right corner of my internet browser. The free browser add on that allows me to do this is T-Mobile (USA) Minutes Used.
- Call using the Gizmo Project. This program somehow allows me to make free calls over the internet.
- Call using Skype. I’ve paid for a year of unlimited calling for $15 so it is much less expensive than my cell phone provider … but it’s not free. Plus, this only works when I’m at home with my computer.
- Nights and weekends: when using my cell phone I get unlimited calls after 9 pm and over the weekend.
I’ll report to you at least around August 13th.