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Watch the Web for Change

There are two apps for Google Chrome which allow you to monitor web pages for changes. Visual Ping once installed will appear as a zig zag line on the top bar of the browser. When you're on a page you want to monitor (say the page of the site of a major corporation that you want to watch for new annual financial reports) you click the icon and enter the email address you want a notification sent to. (Figure 1) The really good thing about Visual Ping is that it tracks the changes to the web pages so you can see how they have evolved. (See Figure 2) It's like setting up your own targeted Way Back Machine - [remember that the WBM only archives web pages every few days.] With Visual Ping you can check for any kind of change every 5 minutes - or at longer time intervals. The bad thing about Visual Ping is that you can only get a limited number of free notifications - it's only free the first 50 times you check a page.

Page Monitor is another Chrome app to track changes to web pages. It too appears as a jagged line in the top bar of the browser. In its custom mode you can select a particular section of a web page to monitor for changes (see Figure 4 - note the 'Pick Element' box at the bottom right), and best of all enter Regex searches for particular terms that you want alerts for. In the example shown in Figure 3, I use the Regex search: \W(Clinton|Trump)\W . . . to check for whenever the Google News page mentions Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump . . . let's hope it's a lot less of the latter real soon. Page Monitor will also prepare a version of the web page showing which portions have been removed and which have been added. The new text appears in green, and the old text is shown in red. See Figure 5.

Notes for Page Monitor in the Chrome store indicate that it will be merged with Visual Ping sometime this year. I'll have to set-up a notification to remind me to check what that ends up looking like.

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