Friday picks

Friday picks: Free images to use on your blog

Finding images for your blog posts is probably tougher than writing the actual post. And for free? Even worse.

Two of my favorite solutions fix this—while still sharing an image’s creator and source information so you’re legitimately using another’s content.

Zemanta is actually a blog content and link suggestion platform that shares your posts over its network. It boasts a WordPress plugin to add in related posts to your site.

But by far, my favorite function happens in WordPress (and, Blogger, TypePad, Posterous, Movable Type, Drupal and Joomla): Using the keyword phrases in your post, Zemanta allows one-click linking to relevant outside sites. Even better, you can search for images with Creative Commons licenses, allowing linking and publishing. It’s an absolute lifesaver for finding images in a pinch and adding visual flair on just about any topic to your blog.

My other find is PhotoDropper — as a WordPress plugin it similarly pulls Creative Commons images, but also premium images, right in your dashboard.

Both of these services run the caveat that you should check if the image is free for commercial use if your blog or website are used in a business context.

Lisa GhisolfFriday picks: Free images to use on your blog

Friday picks: Copyright and protecting your content in WordPress

Protecting one’s images and text online is an important topic, and one I tackled at my Chicago Creative Expo WordPress talk in March.

Stolen work

What makes this most relevant is the story of Noam Galai (see it on The Stolen Scream), whose image (a screaming self portrait) has been stolen countless times across the globe. He even submitted it to Getty Images, only to be rejected, but a replica was being sold on its site! Frankly, you can’t be too careful.

No system is foolproof, but there are steps you can take to better protect your content.

Copyright and protecting your content

One of my favorites for searching down copies — and a fun one at that — is TinEye. Taking a Google photo of Michael Jackson as an example, I did a search for similar images. The results were thousands of the same photo plus those “most changed.” This isn’t surprising for a celebrity photo, but if you’re concerned your images are being reproduced without your permission, it’s a fast and amazing engine.

Next up is WP-Copyright Protection. For most browsers, it disables text and image copying (i.e., no selecting or right-clicking) and  keeps your site out of an iframe (another way to grab content). Sort of an all-in-one, it’s effective and lightweight. It’s my favorite free plugin to prevent right-click downloads and copying of text.

Copyright Proof says it has “teeth” and only protects your posts with a digitally signed, time-stamped copyright notice (if you don’t claim authorship, it’s not yours!). It also provides licensing and is more of a deterrent, providing a badge for your site. But, it also provides one free image takedown per year service via the DMCA — otherwise it’s a paid service.

Watermark Reloaded is a customizable watermarking plugin that works directly in WordPress—hence no marring of your originals. There are a lot of watermarking plugins out there so it’s more a question of what you find easiest to work with.

Any favorites?

Lisa GhisolfFriday picks: Copyright and protecting your content in WordPress

Friday picks: Personal assistant apps

I’ve always been a fan of good lists, like Brit + Co. In that spirit I’m introducing a series of Friday blogs on my favorite tools, plugins, apps and tips.


I’m fawning over three particular personal assistant apps this week. I had a heck of a time finding a decent task app that could also be a bit CRM and project manager AND look good (and I’ll get to that one next week) but I’ve always been doubtful of the PA apps. How can an app really help me?

As it turns out, it can help quite a bit. My favorites are Osito (no longer available in the US iTunes store) and Donna, and I’m still crossing between them till one gets the better of the other. My third is EasilyDo, which brings in the social component. Osito and Donna are only for  iOS, but I can easily see their use expanding.

I did try Google Now, which was useful, but didn’t fit my exact needs. We all have our own quirks dictating  how useful an app will be, and for me, much of that lies in meetings and traffic.

More than a calendar

Each reminds you of your appointments — but better than a calendar, they assess current traffic and tell you when to leave for your appointment (when that comes up for a conference call it’s just… odd). If you do have a conference call, each asks  if it can dial in for you.

If you have a “usual” home and work address, it alerts you to the best time to leave to beat traffic.

All allow you to email,  call or text colleagues if you’re running late — but only if you put the person’s full name in there. If someone doesn’t show, their contact info (via your phone book) is available for the same treatment. And directions are pulled from Google Maps or Apple maps, depending on which you prefer, directly from the app.

Mostly, I love Donna because it appeals to my designer sensibilities.

Predictive intelligence

Osito’s marketing says it relies on “predictive intelligence” — and though it has all the features above, it excels in travel and weather.

Your air travel info is updated on the fly, pulling data from your email. And weather updates are uncannily precise, telling you to the minute: “It will begin raining in Chicago at 12:55 pm.” Even meteorologists can’t do that.

Osito didn’t overwhelm me on design, but it’s clean and clear.

EasilyDo is more social

EasilyDo is rather cool for connecting to your Facebook or other social network (or just email) and scheduling personal greetings and even gifts from you. They’ll even tell you how much time you saved by going through their app rather than doing it yourself (is it accurate? Hmmm…).

It scans your contacts and prompts you to update or merge them, a nice service I tired of with Plaxo a while ago. Easily Do is very graphic and you feel as if you’re accomplishing something — even if it’s just bday greetings.


Some of these features may not seem noteworthy if you aren’t traveling (by any mode), but they’ve saved me from overly-long meetings with alerts, and pulling important data when I failed to do so. For free apps, I’m more than sold.

I’m waiting to see what others like Jini and Sherpa (only on Google Play) will do — but some of those frustrating tasks? Are now a memory, as long as my phone is charged.

Lisa GhisolfFriday picks: Personal assistant apps