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Completing the Ultimate in Home Page Customization
By: Gabor Bernat
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    Table of Contents:
  • Completing the Ultimate in Home Page Customization
  • Utility
  • Unique features
  • Concluding Thoughts

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    Completing the Ultimate in Home Page Customization - Utility

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    First of all, the content that can be included in your own personalized home page falls under one of the following categories: RSS feeds, gadgets, and applications. 

    I will start with the most important: RSS feeds. RSS feeds represent probably the best method for amassing a large amount of news in an organized way. Most news sites have a built-in RSS feed option. With dedicated news servers, it is logical to implement this; however, the same thing can be done for a forum. You may get periodically updated information about the new topics posted, the new messages posted, and more. Of course there are many dedicated RSS feed readers, but nothing can replace the luxury, availability and flexibility of a home page.

    By availability, I'm referring to the fact that you can access it from any place where you have a broadband connection. When I mention the flexibility, of course I mean that such home pages are highly configurable and you do not need to have a program installed on your computer. Just start up your browser, log in and you are already reading content. A browser is present with any operating system, so it cannot get easier than this. Flexibility is also present in the ease of configuring a home page.

    With both Netvibes and iGoogle, the two home pages I'm comparing, this is an easy task. Find (easily) an option that says "Add Feed" and add the link to the site into the edit box. After doing this, the rest is handled by an automated system. The feed is added to your current opened tab, and a new window is created, with the feeds already existing within it. While testing the Netvibes site I had some difficulties adding the feeds for some forums. In contrast, with iGoogle this was not a problem at all.

    It is obvious that this method is annoying and takes up too much time, so to eliminate this problem the people from Google invented for developers a tool named Add to Google. By entering this page and filling in some basic information, you create an image button (or more precisely, generate HTML code that can be added to the page) and by clicking on it, any user can add it instantly to their profile. 

    If you are a Netvibes user and you use Firefox, there is an even more practical solution. It is called the Add2Netvibes add-on. After you install it, you have a new button after the usual back and forth. This will collect any possible feed to the currently-opened page and display the added part, just like adding a bookmark. You can additionally add a bookmarklet, which is less popular than the ones from Google at the time of writing this article.

    As I have said before, Google has a huge gadget/application system, but since Netvibes has aligned itself to the Netvibes UWA, this also works with Netvibes, and it has introduced the new open widget revolution. Now you can create applications that work with many systems and many devices.

    The list itself is impressive; any widget created is operational with the following devices/software: Netvibes, mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, iGoogle, Opera, Windows Vista, Windows Live, and Yahoo Widgets. This new openness may once and for all eliminate the problem of incompatible widgets. The phrase "write once, run everywhere" says it all.

    On such a level playing field, none of them has an advantage over their rivals based on the widespread nature of their platform; all you have is a massive database from which to search for your preferred gadget. Of course, it helps a lot if you know the name of the gadget, as a colossal collection is present. The situation repeats itself at the level of applications. Thankfully, you have many sorting options, so finding the one you need is a child's play.

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