Google Reader now lets you monitor static websites that do not offer RSS feeds

html-2-rssA new feature in Google Reader now allows you to monitor (and get updates) from static websites that do not offer feeds.

Using this feature is as easy as subscribing to a normal RSS feed – simply enter the URL of the site in the Add Subscription box and hit enter. For a feed-less site, Google Reader will automatically show you a dialog box with an option to Create a Feed.

GReader will setup a monitoring service for the page and intimate you of any changes when they occur.

Earlier on, the only options for monitoring a site for changes were third-party services like Page2RSS, Feed43 etc. – which acted as an intermediary layer between your feed reader and the site and provided you with RSS feeds from the target site’s content. To view the feeds, you were required to subscribe to the URL provided by these services using your feed reader.

With Google Reader, you’re essentially able to bypass this middle layer altogether – as both the conversion of a static site to RSS and the reading of RSS feeds will be handled by GReader itself.

If normal feeds are anything to go by, this service may very well double up as an archiving system for a particular web-page by keeping a detailed record of changes of time.

HomeCamera: Peace of mind away from home

HomeCamera LogoDo you always keep worrying about your beloved pet while at office? Has the thought of someone breaking into your home started affecting you work? Wouldn’t it be lovely if you had a way of keeping a constant vigilance on your home and be at peace of mind every time you are away?

Now, if you are willing to utilise the technological edge there are plenty of solutions which can help you out in this. And HomeCamera – which is a recent entrant in this field – happens to do just that. It’s a simple, easy-to-setup service that offers you complete remote monitoring facilities for free. No extra (and fancy) equipment required other than a normal webcam. In fact, with this aptly titled home camera based solution you can hook up as many webcams as you like and monitor every square-inch on your house. On the move and don’t have a net connection at hand? No problem with that either. You can share you camera feeds with any of your trusted buddies and let them take over the monitoring task for a while. HomeCamera offers an archive section, in case you ever need to go back and check on any of the earlier feeds. All of this is accessible from any corner of the world using a standard browser. Here’s a screen-shot of their web-interface.

HomeCamera Web Interface Screenshot

Registration with this service is free and requires only a couple of steps. You need to have a valid email address for this. Once registered you’ll have to download their client software, install and enter your registration details in it and you’re good to go. The client auto-detects all the webcams you’ve got attached to your computer and lists them for your convenience. You can assign names & descriptions to each -which show up in the web-interface next time you login. There’s a pretty slick & accurate motion detection feature that automatically turns on the recording whenever there’s some moving object in the camera’s focal cone. That way you don’t waste valuable disk space or bandwidth by sending out a continuous video stream. You can even specify the length (duration) of each footage that is to be sent out to the HomeCamera server. Cool thing is that the recording isn’t limited to videos – it’s also possible to send out snapshots (pictures). Here’s a screen-shot that shows the motion detection in action. I tilted my head just a little bit and you can see the detection frame zeroing in on that region.

HomeCamera Client Interface Screenshot

The motion detection feature also sends out alerts to your email address and mobile phone (if you choose to) along with a link which directly takes you to the video footage. The mobile messaging part is possibly the only feature which doesn’t come for free. When you sign-up first, you start with 25 mobile credits but you’ll have to purchase additional credits once you exhaust these.

Alternatively, you can disable motion detection and specify an interval (say 10 minutes) at which the footages are sent out on a regular basis. This is called time-lapse recording.

Another big plus point is that HomeCamera virtually works with any given webcam. It also works most CCTV and wi-fi cameras.

As of now, HomeCamera is in it’s open public BETA stage and if you sign-up as a beta tester you automatically qualify for a free lifetime subscription to the HomeCamera Lite service. Moreover, all beta testers are eligible for special subscription rates for various HomeCamera services in future.

I’ve tested out this service thoroughly and as of now they seem to deliver every bit of their promise. This is a far more viable alternative to all the expensive hardware based monitoring systems available in the market. I highly recommend signing up for a beta trial. You can always take a tour of their site/services before you decide on signing up.

As a footnote I’d like to add that while this is a sponsored post, the views expressed here are entirely unbiased and based on personal experience of this service. In fact I’d been explicitly instructed by HomeCamera to express fair and impartial views.