Failure Friday: Red Herring, Magnolia, and Pageflakes go dark

As of Friday morning, technology news site Red Herring, widget start page service Pageflakes, and social bookmarking site Magnolia were all unavailable. But it appears all three will be back up and running.


As for Red Herring's outage, Silicon Valley Insider is reporting (via a Tweet from a former RH employee) that it's closing its doors. However, a source close to the company tell us that Red Herring simply has not paid its hosting bill, and that no employees have been informed otherwise.

In Pageflakes' case the site began experiencing problems early Thursday, which coincided with several … Read more

Put the information you need on your home page

Last week, my iGoogle home page suddenly got a new look via the addition of a pane on the left side containing shortcuts to my widgets. I didn't ask for the new arrangement, and I can't find a way to make the new left pane disappear.

What's worse, when I now click my Gmail in-box, I get an abbreviated version of the application, minus a search box and other useful features. To see the whole enchilada, I have to click the Launch Full Gmail link in the top-right corner of the window. Huh?

The upshot is that … Read more

Pageflakes enters the LiveUniverse

LiveUniverse has acquired Pageflakes, a personalized home page service that had been rumored to be in need of a buyer. Pageflakes competes with the giants--Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and AOL, as well as Netvibes. It's no wonder that the company was looking for an exit. The acquisition was first reported by Techcrunch.

LiveUniverse was founded by Brad Greenspan, a founder of MySpace, and claims 55 million monthly unique users for its more than 30 entertainment sites, which include LiveVideo, LyricsDownload and TuneBlast. Initially, Pageflakes will be used to create "My LiveVideo" personalized pages.

Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen, who … Read more

Netvibes Ginger goes live, still no Web drive

The latest version of customizable start page Netvibes, nicknamed "Ginger" will be open to everyone as of Tuesday morning. We gave it a thorough look back in late January, and Rafe and I have been using it on a daily basis to keep up with various feeds and use it as a Widget engine.

If you're a current Netvibes user using the "Coriander" release, the tool has gone noticeably more social, adding options to follow your friend's reading activity and recommend news items without having to use other bookmarking or sharing services. It'll … Read more

Working Webware: Pageflakes vs. My Yahoo

We just interviewed Dan Cohen, CEO of the start page company Pageflakes. I'll be honest: While I like the product a great deal, I don't love the business. The personal home page market is dominated by Yahoo and Google, and to some extent Microsoft. As good as their products are, the upstarts Pageflakes and Netvibes (which is what I use) have less than a 4 percent share of the market, according to TechCrunch.

Cohen makes the point that Pageflakes is easy to set up, making it a great product for the general consumer. I'll give him that. … Read more

PageOnce provides overview of Web activity, social and financial

PageOnce is a very new take on an old idea. Take your standard widget-based feed reader such as Pageflakes or Netvibes and replace its blog and RSS feed widgets with financial tracking tools to let you keep an eye on bank accounts, credit card transactions, and various bills. It promises to offer you all the things you love about accessing your private personal information, while presenting it like you're scoping out your favorite feeds about gadgets and odd news.

One of PageOnce's best features is that it's very fast, and makes it easy to get going. There's a directory of pre-existing services to choose from, and if you come across one that's not listed you can send in a request for it to be added. I very easily found my bank, phone provider, and various credit card accounts. It also let me add things such as my Facebook news feed, Netflix queue, and mileage number from my airline--something I don't really need to check on a daily basis, but why not add it, right?

Like the service's namesake would suggest, all this action takes place on one page, but you can also cycle through the six major categories (finance, shopping, e-mail, etc.) as you would using self-created tabs on other customizable start pages. The added benefit of going to each of these specialized pages is that the widgets are larger and contain their entire set of data instead of just a brief overview. This was especially useful for my cellular phone bill, which offered up a forecast of how many minutes I was on track to using by the end of the billing cycle, something my carrier doesn't even offer on its billing pages. On the other hand, you can't reorder what's on any of the pages, which is incredibly useful, and will hopefully be added in later versions.

My one reservation with using services like this, and others that deal with financial data (see Mint and Wesabe) are that they just freak me out. There's just something about giving a third party service so much of my personal financial information, that it doesn't matter how secure it is, or how much the data is anonymized on the way there. That said, PageOnce uses a variety of bank-level security measures to keep your data safe including high-level encryption, SSL, firewalls, and vulnerability tests from third party security consulting agencies.

The service is currently in private beta, although we've got 500 invites that have been made available to Webware readers. You can get yours by going here.

[Thanks to Webware reader Kyle for the tip]… Read more

A look at Webwag, single page aggregator for your phone and PC

Webwag is a single-page aggregator that's been around for nearly a year now. Like other similar services, it lets users create one or more customized start pages, filled with modules of content that update continuously throughout the day. These feeds can be searched and browsed through a fairly large directory, along with the capability to drop in any old RSS feed. What's a little cooler, however, is Webwag's Widget-on-Demand tool, which will let you grab a live snippet of any Web page, and turn it into its own widget. If you're familiar with the Webclips serviceRead more

Feed your social network with Pageflakes Blizzard

Pageflakes has just updated their service this morning with a handful of new features. The company is calling this latest release "Blizzard." Users now get their own profile page and can link up with other Pageflakes users as friends. They can also browse through users by interest, based on items they've put together on their customized Pagecasts. The goal is to make the service feel like less of a solitary experience and make it easier to share user-created Pagecasts.

Also new is the option to completely customize a page. There are themes and simple color arrangements for users to pick from, and a tool to create your own. In the same vein, there are now media pages from third-party content providers and sponsors, nearly identical to what competitor Netvibes rolled out with their Universes feature in mid-April. Pageflakes is launching this feature with themed content pages from CNN, AOL, Rolling Stone, and the Washington Post, among others.

To help users find content to add to their pages, Pageflakes has also redone their widget gallery, which they call "flakes." There are about a quarter of a million widgets, which is about twice that of Netvibes.

The Blizzard release also opens up the door to users of Apple's Safari browser, who up until now have been unable to access the site. However, there's no news on whether an iPhone-friendly version of the start page service is in the works. To see more shots of the new features, click the read more link below.

Previous Pageflakes coverage: Pageflakes community gets traction Roundup: single page aggregators Pageflakes CEO wants to take on Yahoo Start here: Pageflakes meets the metagators

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AOL launches myAOL: Web 2.0 for the masses

This morning AOL launched myAOL, a group of three services wrapped up into one customizable page. MyAOL is made up of three services: myPage, a customizable start page akin to Pageflakes or Netvibes; Mgnet--an audiovisual mashup of news; and Favorites--which for all intents and purposes is a Web-based RSS reader. All three offer various ways of browsing, reading, and discovering news and Web content.

Since most users are already familiar with the concepts of myPage and Favorites, the real surprise here is Mgnet. This is one of the cooler things I've seen lately, and somewhat similar to Google's recently released Google News image browser. Users can pick out topics they like or are interested in, and Mgnet will pull up a small array of images linked up with story headlines. Clicking one brings up the story description in a separate pane, and users are able to vote it up or down (a la Reddit) as well as see related news stories (which are powered by Sphere).

In addition to providing stories it thinks you'll be interested in, Mgnet also keeps track of "what's hot," a small list of the most-clicked and voted-on stories. I found this more interesting than the actual AOL front page, since it's a little more visually stimulating. The one missing piece in this system is a way to see how user voting is affecting each story, something AOL will likely add later down the line.

Favorites is also impressive. As an RSS reader it's well-equipped. There's a fairly extensive listing of prepicked feeds from a variety of Web sites. There's also the option to add your own feeds, either with a straight RSS address, or by searching by URL. To keep track of your various feeds, you can set up folders, a little bit like Google Reader. You can also go in and reorder feeds with simple dragging and dropping. The one missing piece is a trashcan to delete feeds you don't want anymore, which instead is handled in a separate feeds manager.

AOL's got a pretty solid lineup of Web apps in one spot with myAOL. What it lacks in true originality, it makes up for in execution, as all three services are simple to use and feature-rich.

See more screens below.… Read more

SportSnipe: A souped-up Original Signal for sports fans

SportSnipe is a new single-page aggregator the likes of Original Signal, PopUrls, and others, although it's focused specifically on sports feeds from all over the world. Users can browse through headlines and video thumbnails for various leagues, genres, and teams. Like Original Signal, SportSnipe has the option to hover over any headline to read the first few lines of the story, along with a comment button that lets registered users add their own commentary to the story--separate of the parent site.

The service claims to pull its headlines from over 1,300 different sports feeds. It also doubles as a regular old build-it-yourself feed aggregator similar to Netvibes and PageFlakes, albeit a little less flashy. Users can add RSS feeds as either text or video feeds. The video feed catcher is especially cool and gives you a little thumbnail for each clip. If you do this with a text feed, you won't get anything but a black box.

SportSnipe has a few ways to sort and share content. You can bookmark pages you'd like to share with others through a variety of social bookmarking sites. You can also turn off comments and hover over previews. With a quick toggle you can rearrange the feed boxes and extend the feeds to see more than just a few headlines. There are also embed codes for putting your feeds on a blog, Web site, or social networking profile (which I've done to the right.)

In many ways, SportSnipe isn't very original as a single-page aggregator. Pageflakes and Netvibes do a much better job with their presentation, and the resemblance to Popurls and Original Signal is unquestionable. However, SportSnipe has a really great directory of sports feeds that aggregate quickly and are far more comprehensive than what Original Signal offers. The video feed implementation is a nice touch as well.

More screens after the jump. … Read more