I don’t write much on this blog about the gadgets and applications I use, but I’ve recently started using several things that I thought people might want to know about and try for themselves (if they don’t know about them already). I often assume that everyone already knows about the things I’ve discovered, but after giving a lot of talks where I talk about these things, I’m starting to realize that isn’t the case. We all can’t keep up with everything, so it’s inevitable that we’ll miss some great little gem out there that could revolutionize the way we do things online.
Here are a few of the things I’ve discovered over the past couple of months:
I know, I’m probably the last person to get on the FriendFeed bandwagon, but I figure maybe one of my readers hasn’t heard of it. FriendFeed is a tool that allows you to follow what your friends are doing in all of their social applications. So if you want to see what I’ve been doing on this blog, in del.icio.us, Flickr, Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pandora and Slideshare, you can follow me on FriendFeed. It’s a nice place to keep up with what your friends are up to without having to visit all of their many sites and profiles. You can even subscribe to your feed of aggregated FriendFeeds in an aggregator, which means I don’t even have to add a new site to those I regularly visit.
Roku is my newest toy. Roku takes advantage of the Netflix Watch Instantly feature by allowing you to stream things from Netflix onto your television. Since most people don’t really want to watch movies on their computer, this is a fantastic little tool. It’s very simple: you just add movies and TV shows to your queue and then browse through the queue on Roku and choose what you want to watch. It only takes about 15 seconds to start playing on my connection. I wish Netflix had more stuff available for instant streaming, but I’ve got a pretty good-sized queue on there of movies and TV shows I want to watch, so that should keep me busy for a while.
I know Remember the Milk has been around forever and I actually had an account from a long time ago that I’ve never used and forgot the login for. But I’ve been skimming the book Getting Things Done and just recently read a post about how to incorporate GTD into Remember the Milk. I followed the instructions (well mostly — I’m not a total GTD convert, but I pick and choose what works for me) and now have a great system for keeping up with all of my projects and tasks. It’s fantastic. There’s also a Firefox extension that integrates RTM into gmail, so my tasks are always in my line of sight when I’m at my computer.
I’ve recently gotten very interested in widgets and since I’m a cut-and-paste techie, I need tools that will do all the hard work for me. I’ve been pretty happy with Widgetbox and noticed that a number of libraries are using it. I particularly like Penn State’s Research Jumpstart idea. I just discovered Sprout (thanks Infodoodads!) and can’t wait to start playing with it. Netvibes Universal Widget API certainly looks useful for developers, but not so much for me at this time.
280 Slides is awesome!!! I can’t believe someone went to the trouble to create what is essentially a web version of Apple Keynote. I played with it yesterday and was very impressed with its ease of use. So, for those of you who non-Mac users who fantasize about creating a presentation with Gradient and Gill Sans, here’s your chance!
So, what cool things have you found recently? While you may think everyone and their cousin knows about it, chances are you’ll be giving someone a useful tip they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.