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TorrentsLib: Where the tags are poetry

So yesterday we featured TorrentsLibrary.  Today we are featuring TorrentsLib.  And the next day?  You guessed it: something with “torrents” in the title (in this instance, TorrentsLand.com)  It’s like a Torrents-related suite, or Trinity.  Fortunately, unlike the Trinity, this stuff is a little easier to explain (and I mean that with utmost seriousness.  Never understood that stuff.  I tried, Lord.)

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TorrentsLib is like a companion piece to TorrentsLibrary, a good ol’ fashioned torrent searcher. It’s basic structure and layout is the same, although this is a bit more orange-tinted, and to these eyes, is a bit more aesthetically pleasing.  You can again search torrents by Music, Movies, TV Shows, Games, and Applications (actually less categories than it’s sister-site.)  This one has the tags front and center.  They’re irreverent.  (Someone is searching on my friend’s last name? Cool.)  Though I must say it was slightly distracting, in that I personally would be less inclined to immediately click on the keyword; my inclination would be to search the most popular torrents listed below the tag cloud.

You can scroll by most popular TV shows, music, games, books, and applications.   Below another cloud tag – which I’ll get to in a second – are the most popular downloads.   Again, like the previous site, TorrentsLib is clean and efficient.  It makes the process of downloading this stuff quick and painless.  And, as with it’s sister torrent searcher, it also has some very helpful FAQs to help you through the proceedings.

And the more I look at it, the more I like the cloud tags.  To the untrained eye, it looks a bit jumbled, a bit chaotic, but to a trained eye like mine, man, it reads like an incredible Dadaist poem if taken properly.  Check it:

joe cocker with a little
guerilla warefare
strippers party
mr. meat 66

Somewhere Tristan Tzara is stoked.

TorrentsLib wasn’t feeling very well one day and didn’t show up to the internet. This led to a life of drugs and debauchery. From there they no doubt moved on to found a pentecostal movement adorned with flowers and butterflies. They left their site behind in the process.

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TorrentsLibrary: The name says it all

It’s Saturday night, and it’s gonna be a quiet night in.  You’re still waiting on your latest Netflix order (“Problem Child 2,”) and TV just isn’t doing it for you (although you’d characterize your relationship with “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” as love-hate.)  You could read a book (too many words), talk to a human (over-rated) or do the Times’ crossword (on a Saturday?  Yeah right!)  So hey, how about downloading a torrent?  For, as the old saying goes, when life throws you a curveball, take a shower, change your clothes, and download a torrent.  (A torrent, by the way, is a file that delivers movies and games to your computer.  It’s also a small, weasel-like animal with webbed feet, indigenous to Malaysia.)

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So this brings us to Torrents Library, a nifty and easy-to-use torrent searcher.  (And remember to check with your lawyer first, kiddies.)  You don’t want Lars coming after you.)  The site is crisp and simple; you can search torrents by Music, Movies, TV Shows, Games, among others.  Clicking on Music, for example, brings up a bunch of stuff, including – for each torrent – the number of files, the size, the date (it was uploaded, presumably), the Seed, and the Leech.  I admit, don’t know that the latter two are.  Sounds like a gross Irish pub from the 17th century.

On the right hand corner is a bunch of movies, and by scrolling down the home page, you see the most popular TV show, music, games, books (which could probably be included in the search box above), and applications torrent. So seems to me we have a bad news/good news situation on our hands.  The bad news: no “Problem Child 2” for download.  The good news: “The Lion King” is ready and able.  Your free torrent is waiting.  Looks like you just made plans, kiddo.

TorrentsLibrary woke up one day to a swat team pounding down its doors, and shutting down its server. We can only hope the women and children were spared. The men were no doubt whisked away to an Eastern European gulag to be indentured servants to the lost black nobility.

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TypePDF: A PDF search engine

Good evening, Cleveland.  So has anyone ever tried to look up a PDF on the Internet?  I know I have.  I was trying to track down a sordid piece of work from my past, because I foolishly didn’t save it, and knew it was in PDF form out in the ether.  I Googled the title and added “.pdf” in the search box, but to no avail.  Furthermore, most of the search results weren’t even PDFs.  Thanks a lot, Google.

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So now we have TypePDF, a “a free search engine that provides an option to search for and download various PDF documents, data sheets etc.”  Their spindly crawlers harvested a huge database PDF files through different open Internet resources such as blogs, forums, and others. This database is regularly checked for file validity so now you can search within more than one million of live PDF files.  Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?

The site is pretty simple.  Just enter your text at the top and off you go.  I entered a term that I thought would be conducive to PDF: “pharmaceutical trials.”  Why not?  (I foresee this being a cool site for research purposes.)  I got a bunch of PDF files to download, and was also referred to other suggested search terms.  Pretty simple.

I wasn’t initially sure about the logic behind the search results, and a few of the PDFs seemed somewhat unrelated to my search terms.  That said, perhaps a bit more searching specificity should be in order.   The home page also lists the most popular tags (ranging from cologne to needlemana to betabeam) leading me to believe the most common users of TypePDF are Fabio and obscure super-heros.  You can also check out the latest searches on the bottom, all equally psychedelic.

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Threadbox: All-in-one, e-mail-less collaboration

There’s an old adage, “Never trust a man who’s weeping in clown make-up.”  That has no bearing on this SlapStart review, but hey, did you hear about this other adage?  It’s this: if you drink alone at a bar, you have a problem.  But if someone joins you, it’s a party. Never heard that?  Hmmm…Anyway, parties are fun, but the bigger the party, the bigger the chance for, say, ruined carpets, shouting matches, and unrelenting shame.  Workgroups are like that.  Getting more than two people on a project is great in theory, but the bigger the workgroup, the greater the confusion.  Conversations, files, tasks, dates, opinions, ideas: it can get messy.  How to harness it all in a simple, cohesive manner?  Enter Threadbox.

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Threadbox is a “real-time discussion tracking, file sharing, schedule coordinating, project management, decision making tool that works along side e-mail.”  It also claims it can replace e-mail, and I can say, at least in the context of a specific project, it certain can, and probably should.  Threadbox addresses an interesting dilemma: we have at our disposal, some nifty tools in which to communicate: e-mail and IM-ing particularly come to mind.  But – call me crazy here – these tools can only go so far, particularly in a collaboration environment.  And conversely, why can’t collaboration tools be as easy and intuitive as IMing and e-mailing?  For example, project management platforms can be cumbersome and a pain to manage: who wants to upload or track every project-related IM or e-mail in project management platform?  (Answer: not me.)  People like short cuts.  People don’t like extra work.

“So,” you say, “why not just put everything in one place?”  And that’s exactly what Threadbox has in mind.  They even call it a “thread” – a shared conversation workspace.  It’s a single web page which tracks and organizes everything related to a conversation – messages, documents, links, comments, tasks, votes, events and the people involved. Unlike email, threads are organized and easy to follow so that everyone is on the same page.

I signed up and was prompted to invite someone else to join my first thread.  Then I entered information on the thread (e.g. a project entitled, “Threadbox Review.”  Deep!)  I posted some information, and quickly saw my thread unfold before me (below.)  (Actually, that brings up my only – minor – qualm.  The first step was to invite someone else to join my thread; this is nitpick-y here, but it felt more logical to create the thread first, then invite others.)  Anyway, the thread itself.  It was a clean, crisp page, scrolling vertically, with of all thread-related messages.  I could simply enter a message or add media and/or content: a file, an event, an address, a task, a conference call, and a option called “Allow Voting.”  The latter is particularly intriguing, because it can facilitate swift decision-making, particularly over small matters, such as sign-off of a PDF file.  (That said, I’m slightly dubious about the merits of majority rule; remember Prohibition?)

I’m not the most sophisticated user of these types of platforms, but Threadbox felt eerily familiar, as it combined the usability of Salesforce (e.g. adding events) with the simple interface of WordPress.  And of course, the familiarity of IM-ing, which goes without saying.  I like Threadbox’s real-time scrolling vibe, which is just more comfortable than clicking through a CRM tool, screen by screen; and reading stuff top-to-bottom is more intuitive than going left-to-right (that’s why newspapers go top-to-bottom, someone once told me.  And when have newspapers ever been wrong?)

I also like the fact that it creates an instant-audit trail which tackles some of the biggest problems across the project workflow: accountability, ownership, segregation of duties, etc. “Oh, but Tom told me at happy hour that Jim was doing it now” — that finger-pointing, he said/she said stuff can be a thing of the past.  From now on whenever you say, “Oh, I didn’t get that memo,” it’ll strictly be in a sarcastic (and over-used, grounds-for-firing) context.  And after spending time in Threadbox – a heck of a place to put your hat down – it makes perfect sense that all project-related communications take place within the thread.  E-mail is so 2009!  Peace out, e-mail!  Whatever, grandpa!

Threadbox moved on to the dreaded DeadInternetSite-box. They realized that their profit margins were unrealized and pulled the site down.

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InfoDome: An intuitive online database platform

Students of film history will quickly recall that Bio-Dome was a 1996 film, starring Pauly Shore and Steve Baldwin, as two stoners who inadvertently stumble into a closed ecological sphere.  It’s right up there with “Citizen Kane” and it’s evident to all that Pauly went to a dark place in that one.  Now don’t get me wrong, I feel like this was some of Pauly’s most challenging work, but it’s a good thing no one will be confusing this film with InfoDome anytime soon.  That is because unlike the flick – which, some argued had no redeeming social value – InfoDome addresses a very real problem: the boundless proliferation of data, and businesses’ inability to adequately handle and make sense of that data.

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InfoDome is a simple and powerful online database that makes it easy to collect, manage, analyze and share your data. Spreadsheet users and database authors can import their data, visually design forms and relational reports with drag-and-drop ease, share these selectively or embed them in a website with a few clicks, and drill into data for business intelligence. Developers can automate importing and reporting. InfoDome runs in a browser, but feels like a software application.

So I logged in as a guest to give it a whirl.  And when it comes to starting from scratch, InfoDome was with me every step of the way.  It was, dare I say, idiot-proof.  I had two choices: Create Your Database, or Open a Pre-Built Application, each with corresponding tutorials.  I chose the former (below), and was taken to a simple screen that gave me three options: Create from Scratch, Create by Importing, Create from Pre-built Application.  Yet again, I chose the former.

On the left, my choice of objects to insert – Tables, Relations, Forms, Reports, and People – and to my right, the data fields for said tables.  Bear in mind, at this point I was getting a bit woozy – this is deep stuff – but I was hanging in there due to the simplicity of the layout.  So I added a few fields.  I could leave the design field and click on the “data” field to see the fields in the table.

info2I won’t walk through the entire process; rather, I’d like to accentuate the point that it was pretty intuitive.  The “drag n’ drop” functionality was especially helpful, and my ability to pretty-up the records with color palates, different fonts, and all that stuff we’re familiar with from Microsoft Word was a happy surprise.  In fact, InfoDome spells out eight unique areas that really make the tool sing; here are four that I feel are particularly nice:

  1. Visual Form Design – I alluded to this earlier; forms need not be dry and impersonal, but rather, visually compelling.
  2. Visual What You See Is What You Get (the acronym, WYSIWYG, ironically enough, is my life coach’s vanity plate on his Saab.)  This is where the drag n’ drop functionality comes into play; what is there on the design page manifests itself in reality.
  3. Dynamic Summary Reports – Reports and data are updated as-it-happens.
  4. Easy Selective Sharing – Infodome makes it easy to administer user rights and control who can do what.

Ultimately, InfoDome – which has a free trial – can prove very useful for small businesses, who can manage leads, customer status, and product inventory – pretty much any kind of information can be segmented, grouped, and tracked.  So, anyway you look at it, InfoDome is an overwhelming improvement over Mr. Shore’s aforementioned farce.  Then again, the bar couldn’t be lower: Bio-Dome has the distinction of the lowest aggregate score for a movie currently included in the database of Metacritic!

InfoDome turned into InfoNotHome. They gave up the good fight. No doubt resigning themselves to a life of hoeing fields and chasing cats.

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My Scenic Drives: Embrace the open road

Seriously though, what is more fun than listening to Marty Robbins and driving south on Rt. 1 from Pacifica to Monterey, CA?  Seriously.  I defy you to tell me something more fun.  The cool Pacific breeze flowing through your hair, Marty on the hi-fi, some two-day old Donettes (y’know, the kind that has that faint hint of coconut flavoring), and gas station coffee on the dashboard; heaven, indeed, is a place on earth.  This drive is something you could call scenic.  It is a scenic drive, and dare I say it, one of the most scenic drives in the US.  Top 5.  I guess the Oregon Coast is pretty awesome too.  Anyway, these are wonderful things, and everybody should try them because they truly soothe the soul.  This is why I am very keen on My Scenic Drives.

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My Scenic Drives helps you – you guessed it – plan your scenic drive based on your location.  My Scenic Drives seems to still be in a beta-ish phase, and the drives are currently relegated to Washington and Oregon – not bad states, though.  (California will be up in a couple of weeks.)

So I entered in the address of my favorite bar in Seattle (and no, I don’t see any contradiction between dark, seedy dive bars and beautiful scenic drives) and clicked “Find a Drive.”  It worked!  The Google Map transformed from a, err, Google map, to one with coiling brown rivers – yes, the drives – super-imposed on top, shooting out from Seattle like scenic capillaries from a rainy, coffee-loving human heart.  At the same time, a bunch of alluring drives popped up on the left-hand part of the screen: “The Rockport Loop,” “Chuckanuat Drive,” “Whidbey Island,” etc.  (If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they were the names of new dramas starring Shannon Tweed on the Lifetime network.)  Anyway, each drive – the aforementioned brown rivers – had it’s own hyperlink, so I clicked on one that jutted eastward to the town of Ellensburg (“big city amenities and small-town charm.”)  I clicked on the drive and found out the drive had a name: “Mountains to Sound Greenway (I90.)  The drive came with all the necessary information (below): an overview (passing through the Cascades), mileage, duration, seasons (it’s do-able for all seasons), and the roadways involved.

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Better yet, there was a thorough description of the drive:

“Completed in 1978, I-90 is one of the country’s most traveled mountain highways. It connects Puget Sound over Snoqualmie Pass to Central Washington. If you live in Seattle or the surrounding areas, this is usually a great mountain scenic drive back home. The road is typically open all winter, although some portions do require chains.”

These people did their research.  So, a couple of comments:

  • I discovered that the drives were relegated to Washington and Oregon only after entering my California address and getting an error message.  I would enter copy to the effect of “My Scenic Drives currently serves the states of Washington and Oregon, but don’t worry, we’ll add more soon!”  (Similar copy is on the home page, below the text boxes, but it would be best to get out ahead of this by mentioning it at the top.)
  • On the home page, I tried to click “Suggest a Drive,” but couldn’t.  Most likely because I had to enter my location first.  It’d be nice to have folks suggest drives without having to enter their location.  (If that’s possible, I apologize.)
  • It could be cool to give each drive more catchy, pithy names.   “The Rockport Loop” and “Chuckanuat Drive” each sound equally alluring, but there’s nothing to differentiate the two.  How about, “Escape from the City,” or “A Taste of the Country,” or “The Old Man and the Sea,” or “High, Lonesome Plains” or “Hobo’s Delight.”  You know what I mean?

We live in an age of anxiety, war, and the omnipresence of high fructose corn syrup.  People are stressed out.  As a proponent of scenic drives myself (did I mention I like Marty Robbins?) I firmly believe that if everyone took some time every now and then to take a scenic drive (as well as get bi-weekly massages, and eat less red meat) Lord knows there’d be a lot less wars.  My Scenic Drives is doing it’s part.  Now get out and drive, y’all!

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FotoFriend: Print your Facebook photos!

Remember back in the day you’d flip through an old photo book?  Those were the days.  So evocative, so elegiac. So…1990s.  Things have changed, naturally.  We view our photos online now, most often on our “Facebook.”  And oh the photos that emerge from the void of our collective pasts!  My friend, for example, told me an old college pal posted some amazing photos of our crew, circa 1997, looking frumpy and nerdy and cool.  And don’t get me wrong – looking at the picture on a computer is nice.  But it’d be nicer to get a tangible copy of it, put it above my bed, create a shrine, etc.  It’d be nice to have the option to touch it, smell it, feel it (though not necessarily taste it; I am open to suggestions, however.)  Make worlds merge – the digital and the analog, y’know?  Enter, stage left, FotoFriend.

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By connecting with your Facebook account, Foto Friend lets you create beautiful photo products directly from your Facebook photos.  Just go into your account, pick’em, and cool your heels for a spell; orders are shipped within two business days.  And just to sweeten the deal, Foto Friend is giving away 100 free wallet-size prints with every order.  There is no need to sign up with Foto Friend.  Rather, you can just use your existing Facebook account and start printing immediately.  Now, initially, some privacy concerns may arise, but Foto Friend is all over it: they do not store your Facebook account information.  That stuff remains with Facebook and Foto Friend accesses it via Facebook’s Facebook Connect service.  So rest assured: your photos from Daytona Beach 1999 won’t show up on some stranger’s key chain anytime soon.

What I like about this service is the diversity.  In addition to traditional prints – lab-quality photos printed on high-end Kodak paper – you can also create:

  • Sheets of 20 stickers!  Each sticker is approximately the size of a matchbox.  This could be a cool option for bands looking to promote themselves in every dingy dive bar bathroom in the US.  Gross.
  • Wallet-Sized Prints. Available in three different sizes and from a mere two cents (!) a photo.
  • Custom Playing Cards (my favorite; see below.)  Seems to me the only custom playing cards I see these days are pretty vulgar.  Let’s think outside the box, people, ok?  Foto Friend’s custom playing cards also come with a hard case – a nifty gift idea.custom

Foto Friend does a great job at aesthetically drawing the visitor onto the page.  And its offerings – particularly the stickers and playing cards – seem pretty unique to me.  From a first-time user perspective, I’d pass along the following comments that could take the navigational experience to the next level:

  • I could have the key tagline – “Create real photos from your Facebook pictures with Foto Friend” be more prominent (perhaps on the right-hand of the screen, or below the Foto Friend logo on the top left?)  Basically this tells me explicity what Foto Friend is, but when the screen changes – in the current version – you could miss it.
  • I’d also have more in-depth chronological screenshots showing how the process actually unfolds.  The upper-left corner of the How It Works page shows it, but I’d build it out to make it more robust.  Just a succession of screen shots from Facebook itself.

Foto Friend also just launched a nifty photo editing competition.  It’s a cool, collaborative idea, with a pretty compelling carrot attached: $500!  Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re all artists here.  We’re purists and are moved by our collective love of music, art, and…hmm…yeah…what’s it called?  Oh yeah, poetry…and of course photography too.  The contest is this: use Foto Friend’s editing tools to add effects, text, whatever, to your Facebook photos.  The winning submission walks away with 500 cold ones (dollar bills, not Bud bottles.)  The contest is open to anyone, and the entries must be submitted by June 30th.  Better yet, you can enter as many photos as you’d like – just please keep it one a day.  Show some self-control for a change.

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FamZoo: Teach your children sound money management

Beyond teaching kids to eat vegetables and play outside a bit more, I can’t think of a more useful or laudable goal than saving money responsibly.  Our citizenry’s (and government’s) inability to spend responsibly is well-documented and not fully realized until it’s too late and you’re out of ice cream money or Social Security checks.  The weight and inertia of the collective culture to spend, spend, spend is so strong, parents likely feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped. They need an ally.  I’d like to nominate FamZoo, a simple, flexible, and easy-to-use tool to help kids learn the elusive skill of sound financial planning.  And better yet, you can try it for free for two months.

As of Dec 2017, the most popular option now is prepaid cards. You can set up multiple cards all under the same account, each with their own budget and incentives to reinforce behavior. Their online tutorial provides a full overview.

FamZoo allows parents to set up a “virtual family bank” allocating spending as they see fit.  In doing so, parents and children can track savings goals accordingly.  FamZoo also educates, teaching kids valuable concepts like interest as well as the importance of charitable giving.  Most importantly, FamZoo is scalable: modify your savings goals as your child grows and their budgets and needs change.  For example, here’s how FamZoo can help:

  • Small children – Learn the basics of what a bank is (a way to keep their money safe from their thieving siblings) and do simple but important things like deposit spare change, learn to count money, learn what a balance is, and how to live within their means, learn to save for an item (instead of incessant begging).
  • Tweens – As the kids mature, you can add sophistication and introduce things like allowance with splitting between multiple accounts so kids learn about savings and philanthropy.
  • Teens – Parents can set up loans for buying expensive items (like a laptop or an ipod) and separate accounts/budgets for specific kinds of spending like clothing or an expensive hobby.

I encourage folks to check out FamZoo’s awesome online tour

FamZoo Home

I must admit I was initially skeptical about kids using this for two reasons: one, the fact that it’s about money and learning stuff.  But it was then I realized that when it comes to computers, kids are far more sophisticated than we give them credit for (maybe they’ll hack the system and quadruple their allowance?), and will likely find FamZoo to be really cool.  By using pleasing visuals, nifty cartoons – illustrations are by Pulitzer prize nominated Henry Payne – and visualizing progress via charts and graphs, FamZoo takes potentially confusing concepts and makes them easy to understand for children.  The Web copy is also crisp and clever: FamZoo makes financial management – gasp! – kinda fun.

Second, and more practically, what are the incentives for kids to use this?  Amazingly it took me all of five minutes to find the answer: money.  And that is where FamZoo really sings: parents can arrange the allowance system so if, say, a chore isn’t completed, than the allowance is withheld – and this is something children will quickly become aware of, as the lost cash is shown there on their very own computer screen.  In a way, FamZoo is the enforcer; no more good cop (dad), bad cop (mom) shtick!

Which brings us back to the poor parents, beaten down by our consumerist society, or a least one that suggests you can buy now and pay later.  A parent can lay down the law and not get their children a Nintendo (are those things still around?), but what happens when every kid on the block has one?  It’s a frustrating collision of values, and often times children aren’t fully aware of the consequences.  Seems to me parents have two choices.  One, turn off the computer, then unplug it, and move to the mountains where foraging for food will dominate your children’s time.  Or secondly, remain in society, where FamZoo can help by teaching kids how to be responsible steward of their finances in a fun, entertaining way. What a concept: sound financial management for children.  Y’know, now that I think about it, I’m eagerly awaiting the next iteration: FamZoo for, say, y’know, actual adults.

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RadioTuna: Spanning the online radio universe

I’ve really been feeling my aggregate oats recently.  By that I mean, I’m very thankful for sites that aggregate other sites, because, as we all know, there are too many Web sites.  Yubby, a site we checked out a few weeks back, does it with video.  And elegantly enough, into my lap falls its free online radio station analog: RadioTuna.  RadioTuna is a user-friendly portal for all things online radio-related.  You can search by genre, artist, or station.  The interface is slick and navigation is painless, and I instantly dove in and searched for stations pertaining to Buck Owens.  Lo and behold, up popped 62 stations that play Buck Owens, and they all looked cool.  When I clicked on one, it instantly popped up in the right-hand corner. (Radio Tuna also will alert you if a station is playing a pre-selected favorite artist of yours.)publication1

I like Radio Tuna because we have access to the experts.  The wonder of MP3 blogs and radio stations is that there are some really, really smart, educated, music-loving folks out there, and they have access to stuff that you would never have.  Piles of old records from family basements, obscure and out-of-date Dutch imports, limited-edition stuff that’s long out of print – these people have it all.  RadioTuna is a portal into the mind of those weird, anti-social dudes hovering over the used-vinyl bin at a garage sale.

This is why I like Radio Tuna over things like Pandora, too.  I don’t trust Pandora’s DNA thingie, and for anyone whose sat in a coffeehouse playing Pandora, the songs repeat after, like, 35 minutes.  You’re at the mercy of the one Pandora intern who created the music’s “genetic” sequence; sites like RadioTuna expands the breadth and lets you shop around.

Of course, with any aggregate site there’s always the risk of getting less-than-stellar search results.  Not so with Radio Tuna.  Their unique genre profiling system tracks and profiles all stations in real-time, 24/7, using a proprietary algorithm. This allows it to sort its stations into really fine-grained categories (over 40 sub-genres in our ‘dance’ category alone) and calculates the genre bar-graphs that you see next to every station result. These help users choose between stations, and provide a visual indication of the ‘musical DNA’ of each station. Stations don’t need to tell them what genres they play; Radio Tuna knows automatically.  The genre profiles in particular make the whole process of discovering new stations much easier and less frustrating than it is elsewhere; if it ends up your genre of choice is Happy Hardcore, then you’re in business.

Previously I mentioned how the stations popped up in the right-hand corner.  This is nice.  There’s no pop-ups or other sites to navigate, and the music keeps on playing.   If you hear a new artist that you’re interested in knowing more about, you can summon an artist bio by hovering over an artist name and clicking the icon that appears. You can also bookmark artists and stations, and share stations with others via email or social networks. If you register for an account on Radio Tuna you can access your bookmarks from anywhere and link up to your Twitter and Facebook accounts for auto-updates.  And it gets better: soon RadioTuna will be releasing embeddable mini-Tunas (!) for anyone to embed on their webpage, as well as a slimmed-down version of the player for radio stations to use.   They’re also developing an iPhone (they’re still around?) app for release later in the year.

So there you have it.  RadioTuna is a sleek, simple, and far-reaching way to check out online radio, which brings me back to our friends hanging out at the used record store, looking a bit anti-social and misanthropic.  Ninety-five percent of the time, we don’t want access into their minds.  But for the other, music-related fiver-percent, the access is radical, and that’s precisely what RadioTuna provides: a spacious musical mansion with many nifty rooms, long corridors, and staircases leading nowhere.  A great place to get lost!

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WebinarListings: So many webinars, so little time

Webinars (e.g. online seminars) are kind of like reading classic literature.  I don’t want someone forcing me to read the Brothers Karamazov and then quizzing me on it; I’d much rather read it at my own pace, thank you very much.  Same thing with webinars. I use to have to dial into them and it was like going to the dentist.  Me no likey.  But my impression of them changed quite rapidly the instant I checked out WebinarListings (particularly their calendar.WebinarListings a central directory of current webinars that are going on, in many areas of interest, from social media to health to technology.

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The site is a resource for people who want to learn about a particular topic – think of Wikipedia with better visuals and audio – and a place for webinar hosts to promote their webinars.  Webinar hosts can post their webinars on WebinarListings for free, or upgrade for more visibility.   The site itself does the heavy lifting by using social media to further promote these Featured Webinars, such as Twitter, Facebook, RSS feed, LinkedIn, and a weekly newsletter.  Pricing info can be found here.

The site itself is nice and simple: either check out the calendar or add a webinar.  The calendar, as I mentioned, is super-cool, with tons of useful webinars in the queue, such as Facebook for Non-Profits and Last Minute-Tax Tips for Small Businesses.  In particular, folks interested in Web 2.0 and social networking/marketing would have a field day, have struck gold.  Simply click on a webinar, and all the relevant information pops up.  A webinar buffet, as it were!

Given my increasingly growing physical (and emotional distance) from the corporate and webinar world, it seems like stuff has passed me by: according to WebinarListings, the webinar/webcast market is expected to increase from $83 million in 2007 to $3.4 billion in 2014, and it’s pretty obvious why.  For hosters, webinars expand their audience pool to previously-unheard of levels.  And for specific niches of webinar hosts – e.g. social networking consultants – there are ample opportunities to cross-sell.   Webinars, of course, benefit businesses and individuals as well.  I envision companies all over scrambling to get up to speed on Web 2.0, social networking, and other trends; it’s not as if you can send staff to a training seminar down the hall or can afford to fly them to Palo Alto.  WebinarListings is hip to these trends, and can be an invaluable one-stop repositiory for ongoing learning.  And unlike reading a dense, ananachronistic novel, you don’t have to read a lot of words.  Speaking of which, Brothers Karamazov is still sitting on my dresser, taunting me.   So…many…words….