I've been home for a little over 3 weeks and just now has the boredom finally reached "maybe I'll post to the blog" levels. Well, that's not totally true... I did make that last post about penguins, but who could resist posting about penguins?
Anyways, I mainly distract myself by surfing the internet. Periodically I'm surprised by how many people know nothing about all the interesting software/websites out there on the internet. Really, this isn't very surprising since the only reason I know all these cool net things is because (a) I'm a geek (b) I have a fast internet connection (c) I'm generally quite bored. Anyways, here's a round-up of interesting stuff that I think is cool... some of it is common stuff, some of it is a bit obscure.
- Firefox + Adblock (+ filter) is good stuff. I know I've posted about this in the past, so I won't say more.
- Tracks up the Tree - is a podcast focusing on indie music. You don't need iTunes/an-ipod/macosx whatever to listen. You just need a computer and an internet connection to listen. The hosts (Funtime Ben and Josiah) didn't strike me as terribly funny when I first started listening (I used to listen primarily for the music) but their last few shows have been quite hilarious.
- del.icio.us/popular - in big words, del.icio.us is a "social bookmarking community" or something like that. Practically speaking, it's somewhere you can bookmark cool/interesting websites, adding little tags to describe what the site is about (my bookmarks can be found here). The /popular page lists those websites which have received a lot of attention recently -- thus acting as a collection of cool new websites for the exploring. Particularly if you're bored, like I often am. Yeah... I check /popular about twice a day....
- skype - you can talk (voice talk, not typing talk) to other people for free through your computer. This isn't the crappy, circa 2001, shouting into a cheap headset internet telephony... it's really easy to use (especially on laptops, which almost always have a built in microphone, even the old ones) and is like using a normal speaker phone... except that it's *free*... even talking to people on the other side of the world.
- Google Maps - somehow, some people never found out about Google's venture into online cartography. Well, if that someone is you, then get your fingers clicking. Note, you can drag the map. no waiting to reload, just move the map as needed. Apparently you can do smooth zooming in IE too, but really, it's not worth using a crappy browser.
- answers.com - is like m-w.com or dictionary.com, but much cooler, better looking, useful, and informative.
- CommunityBits - snippets of politics related media (like the Daily Show). It's rss friendly, so easy to keep track of through a podcast subscriber or through an rss aggregator like
- Bloglines - It's not for reading blogs (though you can use it to do that). It's about being intelligent when surfing the web and not having to read the same thing twice. News sites, webcomics, blogs, media sources, what have you -- find out when there's something new and never have to sort through stuff you've already seen. Trust me, it'll change the way you use the internet.
- Live Music Archive - recordings of live concerts by groups/musicians like Howie Day, Jason Mraz, the Grateful Dead, Tenacious D, Jack Johnson, and (one of my favorites) Glen Phillips. All for free. You used to need a winamp plug-in to play the music, but now-a-days a lot of it is available in .mp3 so just go ahead and listen.
- flickr- I don't actually use flickr... yet. A lot of other people do, however, and it's really one of the best online photo sharing websites I've ever seen. So use it and when you have pictures to share with me, I'll appreciate it.
- TinyURL - Too many links but not enough space in your AIM profile? Have a long url that would be a pain to send anybody? TinyURL will totally rock your socks around the block. It makes long urls really short so you can send them with ease. AND TinyURL comes in a handy bookmarklet form. Just take (TinyURL!) <-- that link and drag it to your bookmark toolbar. Then, whenever you're surfing the net and you want to send someone a link to the page you're at, click the "TinyURL!" in your bookmark toolbar and it'll automatically make a tinyURL for you. It's like magic! Except not. But it's still cool.
- How to (painlessly) phase out of MIT e-mail - Aimed at MIT alums (or soon to be alums) but it really can work for anyone in college. Your school e-mail will expire eventually and, presumably, you'll start using online e-mail services like Gmail instead. This handy little website (written by me... because I was bored) shows you how to set up your current e-mail preferences so that when that day comes, you'll be able to make the school->web transition with remarkable ease.