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BeyondCredentials: Beyond traditional job boards

Anybody out there see that New Yorker cover a few weeks back?  It’s the one of a proud Phd graduate hanging up his diploma in his bedroom, and his parents staring at him desperately in the distance.  The message: the college graduate is doomed.  And of course, the cartoon has more than a kernel of truth to it.  The job market is dreadful.  We’re facing a “job-less recovery.”  “Cold Blanket Krugman” is whispering of a “third depression” (bummer.)  Meanwhile, Jimmy, the guy who used to smoke cigarettes behind the cafeteria in high school just bought a new BMW.  (You may remember Jimmy – he skipped college and now runs a successful landscaping business.  It’s not fair, really.)

But fear not, Magna Cum Laude Oklahoma State grad with a degree in Ethno-Medieval Marxist Studies: there is hope… as long as you’re smart.  And your hope is BeyondCredentials, an interactive job placement service and career resource center.  It only accepts resumes from students with a 3.0 GPA or higher from the best 300 universities in the US.*  It vets out the riff-raft** which is good for you, and lets participating companies know that all applicants are truly the cream of the crop***

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So I cranked up some Smashing Pumpkins, cracked open a Natural Light, and got in touch with my inner recent-college graduate.  I checked out Why BC, their modus operandi.  The BC Blog, meanwhile, is a great resource for the recently-graduated.  I found some helpful posts by recent grads, conveying their experiences in the job market, as well as interview tips, like this one, around the “what’s your biggest weakness?” question.  (For what it’s worth, mine is, “I love without expectation.”)

But ultimately, BeyondCredential’s value proposition is about creating and nurturing an offensively hireable, three-dimensional job candidate.  Resumes are nice, but they only go so far.  BeyondCredential adopts the principles of social networking and all that other stuff, and provides applicants with the tools to go beyond one-dimensional resume posting.  Applicants can, for example, add pictures (no tank tops, please), answer video interview questions via webcam, add writing samples, and share personal interests that make an emotional connection.  Applicants can also control who sees their page (yourname.beyondcredentials.com), download their business cards, and track their page views.  As an applicant, this is easy, fluid, second-nature stuff: college grads have Facebook running through their veins.  And for employers, it’s a fantastic vetting mechanism (e.g. profiles of people in tank tops will likely go in the Recycle Bin.)

A couple of quick navigational comments: I found the Why BC page to be illuminating, but I think it could be tightened up a bit to get more bang for the buck.  This isn’t to say 22-years won’t read it (although I hear, with the Facebook and stuff, attention spans are waning) but some short, crisp copy from the outset could go a long way in setting the tone for the page.  I also liked the navigation bar on the Blog page, which was different than the home page.  A single navigation bar would tie the site together quite nicely.  Lastly, I think it’d be nice to have a sample applicant profile front and center on the site.  You can, in fact, see what it’ll look like (see below), but I had to do some digging to find it.  Heck, put it on the home page or on the Why BC page.  I mean, the profile looks awesome!

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BeyondCredentials isn’t your grandfather’s job board (I’m looking at you, Monster and Yahoo.)  Quite simply, it takes the principles of social networking and applies it to the job search.  I mean, c’mon people, what’s your resume worth on, say, Monster, if it’s sitting there inert, inactive, unloved, gathering digital dust?  (Voice rises with passion) College graduates are more than just sheets of papers, static resumes, and crippling student loan debt. They are people with feelings and experiences, darn it, and they need to be heard (and, ideally, hired.)  And BeyondCredentials lets them be heard.  It enables grads to shout from the rooftops. (Note: they’re shouting, “Good Lord I need a job!!!”)

* My university was not on the list.

**Did I mention my four-year accredited university wasn’t on the list?

***My university was not on the top 300 list.

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Web-Based Software: Find The Right Web App For You

With mobile broadband connections now being as common and ubiquitous as digital watches, we find ourselves waist-deep in a software revolution called SAAS, or Software As A Service. Essentially, it’s web-based software for which you pay a monthly subscription. SAAS eliminates the burden of having to run the software from your own servers. Data is stored online and updates are handled by the software provider. If we ignore the glut of hype coming from the software industry about how much cheaper, smarter, and easier it is to subscribe to software than it is to own and run it, we find that, well, it really does make sense. Companies seem more project-based than ever these days and they fold up quicker than a lawn chair if success isn’t beating down their door within the first few months of launching. Ask a web developer, but only if you want a rant.

SAAS allows you to use the tools that you need to run your business, from anywhere, for a minimum cost. It doesn’t make sense to invest loads of money in the antiquated software architecture of yesterday, particularly if you only have a tenuous notion of what the future may hold. I’m not trying to be a pessimist here; SAAS is just good business for many companies right now. There’s a reason it’s gaining so much ground and increasing numbers of software developers are opting to develop subscription-based software.

Once you decide to go with SAAS, though, you have to pick the right programs. It’s impossible to test each piece of software and most of the time you only have one chance to make the right decision, especially when it comes to project management software. No one wants to start over and learn something new after a few months of trying to get a program to work. It means lost time, which means lost money. So you want to choose the best software right from the start. This is where Web-Based Software can help you.

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Web-Based-Software is a web-based project management software directory. They make the process of finding the right SAAS simple: start off by browsing the website by category and reading a few lines about each program. Then, if you think the program will be a good fit for your business, simply click the provided link(s) to visit the program’s website. The website layout is clean and intuitive, so you can get to where you need to go quickly. Multiple screenshots accompany each program in the software directory, which provides a helpful preview of the software, and there is usually more than one link to the program’s website so you can cut right to the “sign-up”, “about”, or “features” pages.

The categories available for browsing include a wide range of software categories, from general project management software to human resources and payroll programs. More than a few financial, accounting, and billing software options can be found that will handle the money side of your business, while issue/bug tracking software can be a boon to any application developers, especially if your development team is spread out across the globe. You can make sure everyone is working on what they should be, when they should be, with time tracking software and scheduling programs.

Not everything is geared only toward SAAS. You’ll also find software for creating your own social network site, dating site, and forum. I found a few programs that, while probably aimed at small businesses, sparked my curiosity about using them for my own extremely-small business needs. Specifically, I’m thinking one that would allow me to do billing from any computer, which would be great since my laptop was made in 1998 and weighs as much as a baby elephant.

You can browse by category, which is probably the easiest way to find what you’re looking for, or you can browse through only the in-house reviews of software. There’s also a search engine you can use if you don’t want to browse.

What I value the most on the Web-Based-Software website are the in-depth reviews written by the staff. As someone who writes a lot of reviews, I know what I’m looking for when I read one. Give me the key features, an overall impression of the program, and a big, shiny link to the program’s website. Most review companies simply parrot the ad-copy available on the program’s site, but Web-Based-Software gives each review a unique spin.

There are really only one small problem I’ve got with the Web-Based-Software website: no side-by-side comparisons between programs. Being able to quickly compare features for different program that provide similar functions saves me some brainpower that I’d rather put toward thinking about the other million stressful aspects of launching/restructuring my company.

Web-based Software is a useful and time-saving website if you’re looking for on-demand software. SAAS appears to be the next logical step in the evolution of software, so we can safely bet on this website continuing to grow in popularity and depth. The site is easy to navigate and by having an architecture that encourages browsing you might just find a program that you didn’t even know you needed. This might be the very definition of a helpful, informative website.

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EnvelopeHD: Your Web-based help desk

Call me old fashioned, but I like e-mail.  In this go-go world, it still can be intimate and personal and all letter-like.   (Shrugs) I guess I’m just a romantic at heart.  And as far as the workplace goes, I have yet to see a form of communication that would threaten its dominance. E-mail still reigns supreme.

But, as we all know, e-mail has its flaws.  Organizing your messages into folders gets annoying after a while, and in a work setting, with so many moving parts – checking deadlines, assigning tasks – it gets super messy.  In other words, e-mail – to paraphrase Churchill – is like democracy: it’s the worst system out there, except for the others that have been tried.  Well, if you ascribe to this notion – and don’t we all? – than consider EnvelopeHD the separation of powers of the e-mail world: a nice, elegant tool to make sense out of the inbox messiness.

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EnvelopeHD turns your email into a Web-based help desk. But don’t think of it as a traditional help desk (it took me a little bit of time to wrap my mind around this.)  It’s more than that.  EnvelopeHD automates the allocation of work – it monitors your email inbox, allows users to assign tickets, and helps to manage each task to completion.  In other words, it helps you prioritize work in a transparent way – something you can’t really do in Outlook or other mail clients.  There are no complex configuration steps or local installation; simply enter your support email imap account details, add supporters and the service is ready to use.   And, for a small shop, it’s free. So let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Most users, I imagine, will find the Work Queue part of EnvelopeHD most useful.  Screen shot is below.  It is here they can view automatically imported e-mails, assign work, and monitor the status of that work.  What’s cool is the “Grabbing” function – any team member viewing the e-mail can “grab” it and work on it.  (Could you imagine that? Someone voluntarily picking up work?)  I like this because it makes things nice and transparent.  Sure, in Outlook, someone’s who cc’ed on a message can respond saying they’ll own it – playing Devil’s Advocate here – but beyond that, how is that work managed?  How can we keep that person’s feet to the fire, as it were? Where’s the audit trail?  (Answers: we can’t; there isn’t really.  Which is why EnvelopeHD can be very useful.)

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This component brings me to another thought I had (!)  And it involves some of the harder-to-quantify benefits of software such as this.  Anyone who’s worked in a team setting – and who will review companies on a weekly basis – knows things rarely go as smoothly as they look on paper.  And oftentimes, the simple idea of managing someone or something is far more difficult in practice than in theory.  And, let’s face it, some managers may not be good at managing (and workers don’t like being needled.)  This software, by automating the management of certain tasks – forgive me for this – takes out the human element.  It can put off potentially adversarial or awkward “check ins” and minimize “he said, she said” stuff, as everything can be tracked.

So.  All this being said, my main suggestion is from a global-messaging perspective.  Granted, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and not entirely tuned in to how folks market functionality, but when I saw that EnvelopeHD was a “web-based help desk,” I thought precisely that: Susan in accountanting can’t access some system, and this is where EnvelopeHD helps.  (Even the copy “hybrid ticket system/email client” threw me for a loop: in my mind “ticket system” equals help desk.”)  The more I scrounged the site, however, it became evident that EnvelopeHD, as I (hopefully) so eloquently articulated – is more than just a help-desk solution.  It helps you manage work in a transparent way.  If this is the case, I’d suggest the copy on the site reflect that, if only because it strengthens the value proposition.  EnvelopeHD can help get stuff done more efficiently and without manual touch-points that can prolong projects.

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SignatureConfirm: Easy online contract management

It’s a process eerily reminiscent of the Stone Age (e.g. 1998), and it goes a lil’ something like this: Mike secures yet another offensively lucrative writing engagement.  He modifies his templatized contract and either e-mails or faxes it over to his breathless client.  The client signs it, old-school, and e-mails it or faxes it back.  Mike saves it in the bowels of his laptop and then goes to karate class.

Three months later, while preparing for small claims court with said client, Mike tries to dig up the contract.  (His lawyer, a public defendant-type, is hapless: frazzled hair, overflowing briefcase, stained khakis – straight out of central casting.)  But mike should cast stones – for some reason, can’t find the contract.  It’s gone, man!  Contemplating matters, Mike realizes this whole sordid ordeal has been riddled with human errors and manual mishaps.  It is, in fact, “eerily reminiscent of the Stone Age (e.g. 1998),” Mike muses.  “Shouldn’t this process be, like, digital or something?”

If I could talk to myself in this context, I’d say, “Yes, this process can be digital, and there’s this start-up called SignatureConfirm that does it very, very well.  And ditch the lawyer while you’re at it.”

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SignatureConfirm is an end-to-end digital contract management service.  That is to say, it allows you to sign contracts online. It’s simple: create a contract, send it, have the recipient approve it via digital signature, get it back, and, when their lawyers come a’ knocking, easily access it with their nifty search tools and/or flee to Central America.  So I went in there and did my thing.

I signed up for the free plan (there are others, here.)  Once signed in, I could choose from my Dashboard, Account, Profile, Preferences, or Tutorials.  Since I was starting from scratch, I clicked on “New Contract” to get the ball rolling.  I named my agreement and then simply pasted in the verbage from Word (see screen shot.)  I added recipients and previewed it.  Then I sent it.  My dashboard also showed me contracts that are drafts, unsigned, overdue, and archived.  Pretty cool. The whole process was shockingly simple, and the interface was clean and intuitive.

SignatureConfirm deftly anticipates any practical or legal questions you may have in their FAQ.  For starters, they address the issue of electronic signatures.  The future is now, and they are quickly becoming a legal form of agreement in many states, but as always, check with your lawyers first.*

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Secondly, I wondered, “Oooh, ooh, does Digital Confirm has templatized contracts I can pull of the shelf?”  The answer, for now, is a very justifiable, “not yet.”  Providing contracts themselves would make SignatureConfirm potentially legally liable, and as much as the idea of an even more litigious world fills me with starry-eyed glee, I’d rather not have them get sued to oblivion.  They seem like nice dudes.  (Maybe down the line they could partner with, say, LegalZoom – they provide contracts, and more importantly, they were founded by one of OJ Simpson’s Dream Team lawyers.  I can see it now: “If the contract doesn’t fit in a template, you must litigate.”**)

All that said, once you do have a contract you and your legal counsel can live with, you can simply re-use it using their “Clone this Agreement” tool.  For users with minimal fluctuations to their business agreements, this functionality is really all you need.  (And their tutorials are nice too.)  All in all, fast, simple, efficient, and pretty unique – I am unaware of a similar service.

Well, I’d like to wrap up this feature now.  But first, you may be wondering how future-state Mike fared is his small-claims court battle against a disgruntled former client.  Without SignatureConfirm, he never did find that contract.  Mike fired his lawyer too, although he did end up getting some, let’s say, “creative” advice from some freelance “associate”-types working at the fish market back in Jersey.  Ultimately, he made the former client an “offer he couldn’t refuse,” and wouldn’t you know it, everything turned out just dandy.  Capice?

* I had to check with SlapStart’s lawyers to make sure it was ok to say “check with your lawyers.”  They said it was fine.

** A riff on the “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” thing, of course.

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Interestmix: Rate stuff and meet people all at once

It was the best blind date ever.  When your eyes met, you felt butterflies.  The movie was awesome, and you found yourself inching closer towards him during the scary parts.  After that, you had drinks, and if were possible, it got even better.  Your signs are compatible.  He is a great communicator.  He loves his mother.  Things are quite promising.

Then, as the night winds down, you ask the obligatory question, “What kind of music do you like?”  (FYI: you like Os Mutantes, Leonard Cohen, and Thelonious Monk.)  And, after taking a deep gulp of his Coors Lite bottle (your favorite!), he says, “I am obsessed with Nickleback.”  You spit out your beer and start choking.  The busboy gives you mouth-to-mouth, and when you regain consciousness, your date is hovering above you.  Your first words are, “Nickleback?”

“Oh my God, I love them,” he says.  “I actually followed them on tour last year, and it was amazing until they hit me with the restraining order.”

Dude likes Nickleback in an un-ironic way.  And with that, the dream is over.  Next time you’d be better off meeting cool people on Interestmix.

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Interestmix is a place where you can rate and review pretty much everything in one place.  Consider it a user-friendly mash up of sites like Amazon, Yelp, Metacritic, and countless others.  It’s a schmorgasborg.  A delectable bouillabaisse.  Better yet, Interestmix tracks your ratings, and over time, can suggest things you may like and put you in touch with like-minded folks (who can in turn recommend stuff.)  To that last point, don’t let my (long-winded?) opening anecdote lead you astray: Interestmix is *not* a dating site, but two things are irrefutable: 1) It’s great to meet people who have the same musical or artistic tastes as you (even if it’s platonic!) and 2) Interestmix is really good and putting you in touch with similar people, and if you end up meeting a fellow Sun Ra fan, and you choose to elope within 48 hours, is that really a bad thing?

Interestmix lets you rate stuff across the following categories: Movies, Music, Restaurants, Nightlife, Activities, TV, Wine, and Culture.  There’s also a page for Members.  Let’s a take a look at the Music section.  Albums popped up, and it was laid out very simply.  Each had a rating and a user’s comment below.  Click on the album and you’re taken to a page with its tracklisting, date of release, and most importantly, the reviews.  By clicking on the user’s comment on the previous page, you’re taken to – you guessed it – a page of all of their cumulative comments.  (Screen shot is below.  And you have to register – it’s free – to do this.)  Once you register, you can invite friends and pick your experts – people whose opinion you really, really respect – and be kept up to date on their reviews.  This process can be made easier by clicking on the Members page, to search each member individually.

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As a first-time user I was…relieved when I hit the home page.  Relieved in that the design was simple and soothing (nothing like aqua blue), with intelligent use of space.  I also saw familiar album covers, which also piqued my interest.  The navigation itself was quite simple.  A couple of suggestions:

* When I clicked on the Music tab, I could see, on the left, that I could sort the results by “Most Reviewed” and “Highest Rated,” as well as by genre.  That said, I wasn’t sure what the default sorting arrangement was (it wasn’t by “Highest Rated,” because “A Love Supreme,” listed third, had a higher rating – thank goodness! – than the first album displayed.)

* A version 2.0 comment is this: browsing by members is super-fun, but, in my quest to find an expert, it’s hard for me to know the precise areas of expertise for each.  I can sort by topic – and that’s extremely helpful – but it’s be cool if each could show a brief area of expertise (e.g. “Beatles,” “Italian Food,” “Lost,” “red wine”) on the search result page.  I admit, that’d make things a bit more cluttered, but it’d save people time in expert-hunting.

I must also say, is effective in getting users to contact other members.  For starters, sites like Amazon don’t have pictures for commenters and even if it did, their layout stresses me out.  Interestmix’s tidiness is refreshing, and seeing that person X, for example, posted an insightful comment on a cool album, makes me want to say what’s up to her (in a platonic way, of course.)  So I think Interestmix is great.  That said, I can’t say the same for your Nickleback friend.   You kept things platonic for sure, if by “platonic” I mean that you testified as a character witness in his stalking trial.  I think it’d best you two just remained friends.

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YouTern: Your one-stop internship portal

Only two things, the old saying goes, are for sure in life: death and taxes.  I think Ben Franklin said that.  Or was it Dickens?  Well, I would like to amend that: death, taxes, and internships.  Yes, you heard me.  Internships.  Because despite their inherent gnarliness – unpaid labor, after all; how is that legal? – they are necessary if you want to get ahead in this crazy, go-go Babylon we call “the world.”

Internships are a modern-day rite of passage, a mirror-maze, a trial by fire we all have been through, and for which our children, our children’s children, and our children’s children’s children must go through.  Yet where, may I ask, is the one-stop portal for all internships?  Why must I have to sift through annoying job sites to get to these internships?  These are not rhetorical questions, so you can imagine my relief when they were succinctly answered in a word: Youtern.

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Youtern is an online community that connects entrepreneurial companies and emerging talent through internships. With YouTern, start-ups and small- to medium-sized businesses have a unique resource to find enthusiastic talent.  And it’s not so bad for the interns themselves: they now have a broader pool of internships to choose from, and as a result, have the luxury of choosing internships that suit them best.  Interns, don’t fret: making coffee and photocopying stuff all day need not be your destiny!  Cheer up!

Sufficiently cheered, I dove in.  The first thing that struck me was the Search for Internships bar in the middle of the screen.  How could I resist?  So, to search, I had two choices: a quick search or an advanced one.  I chose the latter (below.)  There were tons of search choices, from Industry to State, to Telecommuting possibilities.  Once an internship pops up, all the relevant info is there: company info, time frame, and a description of the internship itself (among, of course, other things.)  Of course, you can apply for it online, and by creating an account, you can save all your internships in one place.

And it goes without saying, YouTern can be a boon to employers.  How effective is Debby in HR in tracking down interns?  I do not know.  But I know this: without access to a portal such as this, it’s highly likely that some good ones slip through the cracks.  Companies, therefore, should register with YouTern.  In fact, YouTern offers registration to Students and Graduates as well.  They also have what’s called a Career Center, which requires registration.   The Career Center is a helpful tool to empower “guidance counselors” find the right opportunities for their students.  And as anyone who remembers their guidance counselor can tell you, this is a good idea.

Flashback, February 1994:

Mike’s Guidance Counselor, Mr. Brown: So, Todd, how are your culinary school applications going?

Mike: My name is actually Mike.

Mr. Brown: Oh…Mike, yeah… So.  How are those culinary school applications going?

Mike: I’ve never wanted to go to culinary school.  You have me confused with someone else.

Mr. Brown:

Or to put it another way, if Tammy from HR has minimal access to internships, do we have any more faith in Mr. Brown? (Who, I may add, means well.)  But I digress.

YouTern Web Dev Internships

Ultimately, Youtern is in a nice position.  Aside from them, no one else seems to be providing this all-intern service.  And as companies continue to look for ways to save money – like, say, not paying their workers – the market for interns, I imagine, will only grow.  At the same time, this enlarged internship universe can warm the hearts of recent graduates, living with their parents while vacantly staring into the bottomless void that is their doomed career.  More internships to choose from means the ability to work at cooler places.

If anything, the only person who loses out in this proposition is Mr. Brown; savvy students may no longer need his services.  I compare Mr. Brown to those travel agents of bygone eras, now replaced by Expedia and Travelocity.   They’ve become irrelevant relics of yesterday.  But don’t feel bad for Mr. Brown.  He’s just not good with names.

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Tours by Locals: Trust the experts

Back in the day, I was passing through San Antonio, TX with a band, and we played this show.  The guy who put on the show was a local impresario, and, knowing this, we said, “Hey man, take us to the best Mexican restaurant in all of San Antonio!”  He said, “Sure!”  And off we went.

We drove by a really amazing-looking Mexican restaurant.  And another.  And another.  And another.  We were famished – why didn’t we stop?  An HOUR and, I swear, 56 amazing-looking restaurants later, we finally went to one.  And it ruled.  I mean, I bet the other ones would have been good, but this one – this was the kind of place only a local would know about.  Somebody (me?) should tell him about ToursByLocals.

ToursbyLocals is a tour guide-finding service, brokering adventures between thrill-seeking “customers” with experienced, local guides.  It’s the straw that stirs the adventure-drink.  It’s a match-maker, like eHarmony without the regret, sadistic in-laws, and canceled wedding (the mariachi band was bummed.)  From a thrill-seeking customer perspective, it’s simple: register as a traveler to get access to all these smart locals, find your tour guide, and off you go.  And for tour guides, it’s super-cool: make money giving tours of the places you know best.  There’s also a nifty free-market twist: Tours are priced per tour, not per person, and travelers are encouraged to rate their tour and tour guide at the conclusion of the tour.  So let’s take a…tour (of the site)…eh?

The first thing I did was register as a traveller.   I was taken to My Account page, where I could see my upcoming tours, tours awaiting my rating and comments, and tours I’ve added to my wish list. I could also check my messages and purchase history.  So then it was time to find my tour (below.)  A map of the world popped up showing where they had tours.  It was pretty impressive – they have tours everywhere!  They’re like McDonald’s.  Due to my soft spot for former penal colonies, I clicked on Australia.  Then a map of Australia popped up with its five states (provinces?  territories?)  There were green dots where there were available tours, and just as I hoped, the city popped up when I rolled the mouse over the circle.   I clicked on the Gold Coast tour and was taken to the tour, where I learned about the region itself, the Guide, the rating, the price, and the duration of the guide.  And lastly, I could book it with the click of a button.

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And then there’s the the really cool part of TourbyLocals: the ability to sign up as a tour guide and make cash doing what you love.  I clicked on the Become A Guide link, which, along with a helpful three-minute video, provided all the basics.  It’s also worth noting that, in their own words, “ToursByLocals only makes money when you do. We charge no upfront or ongoing fees – only a percentage of actual bookings.”  This incentivizes the tour guide to put together a compelling package, a high rating, and repeat business.  All in all, the site was extremely easy to navigate, particularly as someone interested in booking a tour or becoming a guide.  My only qualm – and it’s minor – is this: on the top navigation bar, I’d add “Register” to encourage folks to register as travellers.  As of now – as far as I can see – the only place to do it is on the home page, bottom-left.  That said, failure to register isn’t an impediment to searching for tours, so that is good.

Ultimately, ToursbyLocals serves a wonderful purpose.  No one knows their home town like a local.  And where this service can be extremely successful is when it comes to smaller, off-the-map places.  Sure, it’s easy to find a tour of New York City or San Francisco, but there are neat, little towns – college towns, for example, for prospective students – that can be very well-represented by locals on the ground.  After all, we make some of the biggest decisions of our lives based on seemingly inconsequential matters.  I chose my college because the campus was nice.  I know people who move to neighborhoods because of good restaurants.  And if Mexican food is your thing, I got a great, future ToursbyLocals-guide in San Antonio who you should call.

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WebClip: Save Only What You Want

I remember about a year and a half ago I saw the funniest online video that I’ve ever seen. It was from a sketch comedy group and it involved two detectives at a crime scene and they were trying to do that move you see in movies where you close the eyes of the deceased person by moving your hand in front of their face. Only instead of closing the dead person’s eyes something strange would happen. One detective would try to close the eyes of a dead woman laying on the ground and the eyes would not only remain open but the face would be contorted into the most horrific grin. Or the face would be painted like a clown. Or the person lying on the ground would inexplicably become the other detective. It sounds a bit macabre, but let me assure you it was hilarious.

I’ve tried explaining the sketch to friends and they laugh but then they want to see the video. That’s a problem. I don’t know the name of it. Nor do I know which sketch comedy group made the video. Also I don’t remember much else about the video. In fact, the only thing I really remember is that it literally made me fall out of my chair laughing. I’ve searched for it but my search terms (detectives + dead girl + funny) don’t yield the most pleasant results. I do remember, though, that I bookmarked it in my web browser. The problem now is that since I watched the video, I’ve gone through three computer and two laptops. And, of course, I never remember to back up my browser bookmarks.

webclip

WebClip (WebClip.in) is the kind of website idea that makes you wonder why other companies haven’t come up with it before now. Instead of just being a place to store your favorite web stuff, you can clip out just the part of a webpage you want to keep and store it with the click of a button. It doesn’t matter what it is you want to save; it could be text, pictures, video, links, WebClip saves them all.

You can sign up for a WebClip account through your Facebook or Twitter account, or click on “Sign Up” if you like. After that, you drag the “Webclip this” bookmarklet button up to your favorite/bookmarks bar and you’re ready to go. Once you see something online you want to save, highlight it with your mouse by dragging over the object and press the button. A pop-up window will appear where you can choose a category, what content you want saved, and any notes or tags you want to include with the content. Click “Save” and your content is stored at WebClip.

WebClip lets you create you own personal repository of favorite items, organized by category. The feel of the site is like your own personal Digg!. Other users can comment on your finds or “Like” them or mark them as a favorite. There’s a sense of community and the WebClip website is well-designed, and there’s sharing going on. You can share from WebClip to other social media sites and comment on other people’s finds. But that’s not really why I like WebClip.

I like it because it stores the stuff that I like somewhere reliable, i.e. nowhere that I can mess it up. If I want to share something I found today with a friend next year, I can do that. As long as I post it to WebClips, I don’t have to worry about not being able to find that great video or link or photo, because it will be there, in its assigned category, ready to share.

If there’s one thing that WebClips doesn’t have that I want, it’s the ability to search through only MY posted favorites. As I continue to use the service, I’ll end up with thousands of favorites and it would be great if I could search through only my favorites or a single user’s favorites, instead of all users.

An area I can see WebClips being particularly useful is for research. When working on a project, you could use the service to pick and choose paragraphs from reference material you find online that you might want to use later. Instead of saving the whole document and noting the page and paragraph, you only have to bring up your saved WebClip and it will have whatever notes you wrote attached to it. College students might find this very handy.

There’s so much great stuff out there on the web that it’s easy to continue amassing a pile of stuff you like. Services exist that allow you to save whole web pages but sometimes all you need is a few pictures or a sentence. WebClips integrates well with social media and fosters a sense of community between users. It’s an organized, online bookmarks folder that I never have to back up. Which is just what I needed.

WebClip.in turned into WebClip.out. In a Hail Mary effort to salvage anything from their months of hard work, the domain is up for sale.