Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

NetVibes Personal Portal Tool

I've been experimenting with NetVibes, an online tool that lets you build a re-usable and bookmark-able central page where you can load a variety of services. I've added my Yahoo! Mail link (you can add a link for Google mail if you like), RSS feeds for various Web 2.0 and Yahoo! Groups I'm active in, as well as the feeds for various blogs I check regularly. Since I move around several computers during the day this tool could provide a great service, if only I could figure out a way to tie in my Eudora email that resides on my main machine and the custom Access database I use for contact tracking!

This is one of the many AJAX based services that are cropping up over past months. I have to say that the ease and speed with which you can "build" a personal portal from various RSS feeds is amazing and very easy. Importing OPML works very slickly. There are a couple of interesting widgets including a plain-vanilla notes tool and a rudimentary  "to do" list tool. Expanding and collapsing lists is also slick.

The appearance is quite plain - which is fine for me. I especially like the way you can browse the text of RSS feed articles - the list for the feed shows up on the left, and the text (and various images) on the right. This is another argument for paying attention to how you write the title and first paragraph of your blog entry given that is what people will be scanning with tools like this.

I'm undecided about storing my email password with the NetVibes folks.  That's the price you pay. I also don't think I would necessarily share this page openly with the world at large -- do I want competitors knowing what I'm scanning regularly? Also, I wonder about the overall security of things like passwords with service like this.

But I have to say that the ease of use and sophistication of this tool is quite impressive and shows how easy it is to create topic- and project-specific pages from available feeds using the "Web 2.0" tools that are proliferating.

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