Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Technology Makin the Grade

I spend a lot of time through the course of my day playing around on the Internet Machine. Most of this is justifiable, as I try to keep up with new technologies and user trends. Some of course, is just plain screwing around (damn you Sudoku! your tricky number patterns continue to baffle my feeble mind!). But for the most part I'm interested in seeing what the new trends are, and in many cases, finally adopting some of those old trends (like RSS, what was I thinking by not doing this before?!)

A few select things have actually made into my daily routine, which makes them pretty notable!

Stumble - This is the best time waster of all time! You install this little baby in your toolbar, and when you have a free moment, you click "Stumble!" and it takes you to an interesting site. I've found so many neat things here! I learned how to draw a head, did a geography quiz on the Middle East (didn't do so hot), saw some of the most beautiful pictures known to man (EarthAlbum), and got recipes for what I have in my fridge right now (Cooking by Numbers). If you ever have downtime at work - this is a must!

East 41st - Do you ever browse the bookstore and think "Gosh, I'd love to read this book, but funds are low - I should check it out from the library." But then you get to the library and you can't remember what it was you saw at the bookstore? Or you can't find the scraps of paper where you jotted the list down? Well E41 will put this particular problem to rest. You can browse, and save the books you are interested in into "My Bookshelf". Then, you can look your books up at your local library to see if they have them (and if you're a high-power library user like myself, you can put the items on hold). I asked the developer to add Montgomery County Library (which he did in ONE day!), so if your local library isn't available just ask! Love it. Love it. Love it!

Sage RSS Reader - Technically, RSS has been around for a million years, but for some reason I never really thought it would be relevant for me. There weren't that many websites I was interested in getting daily updates from. (Traditionally, RSS is good for news distribution, but I don't care that much about the news). The Sage RSS Reader is built into FireFox, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. This went from mildly interesting technology to a "must have" as soon as I started adding blogs to it. Now I can simply open the reader and click update to see if any of my friends have updated their blogs. It saves me from having to go to each one to see if they've updated. Since it's so easy to see if things have been updated I'm adding all kinds of sites (TechCruch, PerezHilton, a few librarian blogs etc.) I find that I want more sites to have RSS feeds available. I'm really smacking my forehead that I waited so long on this one!

Now, there are a lot of things out there that I think are really cool but I don't use them everyday. These next few deserve a nod, and maybe they'll find a home in your daily routine.

Honorable Mentions - This site specializes in selling handmade goods. (you know "crafts") I'm not a big craft person, but some of this stuff is really cool. What really makes this site cool though is how fun it is! Check out the "Colors" button to the left - you can shop for items by color (in a really cool way!). The TimeMachine is also really amazing! The neatest part about this site is being able to fling the items around - it's really fun! You should give it a try!

Diigo - If you are organizing a lot of websites and the information on them, this is a handy little guy. You can bookmark pages (nothing special there). But you can highlight portions of the page - like quotes or pictures, and then tag them up. This is handy if you are trying to remember which site you saw that really interesting quote on. I was using this regularly for a while, but I've sort of stopped. Not sure why.

StyleHive - Web2.0 meets Shopping. I don't use this site too much because I don't do too much online shopping. But it's still a pretty cool place. AND I found some really cool sticker-like wallpaper I'm interested in trying.

and finally (not necessarily in the website category, but I still think it's cool) ...

- So the chances of me actually ever owning an iPhone are practically nil, given I'm the cheapest, non-gadgety chic on the planet. But when I read the press release for the iPhone, I'll admit I got swept up in the euphoria. I was glad, glad I tell you, that Cingular will be hosting the service so that now there's a remote possibility that this might someday be mine (This is key since I've signed so many new service agreements with Cingular that I think my contract now extends beyond my life expectancy). And I'll admit I got so excited thinking about how cool this phone would be that actual tears leaked out of my eyes. The iPhone is pretty damn cool.

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