New to Me Bag

After playing coy on the subject of Keyword Research in my last post addressing tools, here's a follow-up with some of what I've been into lately - various tools, resources and such.

1) SEOmoz's Juicy Links Finder, of course. If you haven't at least heard of this in recent weeks, you've either been under a rock or (good for you, actually!) taking some time off from the Web for a bit (and Hell, its End of Days is upon us anyway). Their list of suggested directories is a nice complement to that, and also similarly concerned, previously unveiled compilations such as those by Aaron Wall and VileSilencer.

2) GapMinder World. This is a very high-level data tool / toy offering variable metrics through which some interesting correlations and contrasts can be viewed. As I tend to work pretty tactically moreover almost totally in strictly Web contexts routinely, I don't see myself making much use of it professionally... Regardless, it's a must-tinker for those who enjoy information, especially demographical and technical, as a way to stay in touch with and understand one's world. For example, one can see how on the global scale, in consideration of our CO2 footprints and GNP per capita, we Americans could be argued as being literally filthy rich (individually, that is). On the African continent by comparison, people are dying more and younger. If you're reading this you probably take note of data enough to have already known the fact... but there's nothing quite like having ways to view data visually that drives the power of sheer numbers home.

3) A couple of popular and/or industry-topical blogs and other social sites into which (as I recently realized) one can drop comments instantly and very easily that include links without forced NOFOLLOW. Hints: One is all about Social Networking and another is a new site dedicated to Search. :wink:

4) XSS Attacks - Cross Site Scripting Exploits and Defense: The most recent addition to my library of tech reads. I'll comment more once into it more deeply, which will be soon: I've been looking forward to this.

5) Saving the best for last: AutoMate. As an Analyst and otherwise I find this a hands-down kick-ass application for anyone needing to mechanize structured, repetitive tasks. I've only been using it a while but its got essentially limitless potential. After only hitting the tip of the iceberg with it, I've done more already than literally cut entire days of work out of my average week, freeing myself up to focus on things that actually involve primarily my brain instead of my hands, all the time. Some of the ways it can be used to dissect how sites' logic roughly seems to work for example, is quite cool. For those to whom "work smarter, not harder" equates to laziness being best practice, and also for those with agendas of boosting productivity, around-the-clock profits, reducing human error potential and staving off RSIs (repetitive stress injuries), this is a killer utility - and, a tool being a tool, as a powerful one it can be used for both innocent and dark things. I also highly recommend it to managers who are having trouble hiring people nowadays (of whom there are many). If you're finding yourself wishing you had more junior people on your team to bear the brunt of the A, B, Cs so you can focus on X, Y and Z, this kind of thing may cause you to re-consider if you really need to use a headcount for such or even at all. Lastly, this tool can also raise the bar on contexts like "I need a (better) developer to build me a (blank)." With just a basic grasp of fundamental programming concepts e.g. looping, also attentiveness to detail, patience, creativity and imagination - A lot of things can be done with this that even some really great programmers would find challenging to pull off coding tools for from scratch. I very rarely come across a software product that radically changes my direct game, enabling me to seriously scale, speed up and tighten my work. As an intuitive custom 'bot and/or workflow builder this most definitely qualifies, so from here on out I will continue logging many hours in with it routinely, across as many machines as I can run my custom routines on. It doth hit a few snags sometimes particularly when working with the Web, but the amount of babysitting it needs is usually acceptable. What it can't fully automate can usually be at least partially covered (so far, it seems), despite how every situation is different which puts it at the mercy of what's machine-readable or not, and how if/as so (e.g. trying to unleash it on AJAX or Flash apps). Anyway, at work and at play, let a new level of focused and orchestrated Web Ninpo begin!

That's some of what's been my bag lately. What's been yours?

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