The interesting internet compendium – Volume I

I’ve recently been cleaning up my enormous (~300) bookmarks folder on my browser and my similarly ponderous Evernote database and dug out a list of stuff I’ve bookmarked (and used) over time and reach an sufficiently arbitrary level of geeky coolness to share for viewing pleasure.

Many are courtesy of this link. (Beware obsessive-compulsives. You WILL click on them all. )

(Note: This list and post are my own work through and through. Nobody asked me to write it or what to include or anything. Don’t try to read anything into the order or section lengths either. All arbitrary.)

Piriform Defraggler – Windows 95 to Windows 7. They all have the ‘defragmenter’, and its really really useful and important. The sad thing is, the default defragmenter has not really changed much from the days of yore. There have been many different third party defragmenters. I’ve used quite a few, and this one from Piriform (the same guys who made Ccleaner, also on this Compendium) is up there.

The best things about it are 1) It tells how fragmented (in files and memory size) is fragmented, updated as it defrags, 2) the graphics are arguable cooler and more useful than the default tool’s and most importantly, analyzing fragmented files is epically easier with this.

It also has a bunch of value-adds like being able to exclude file types, defrag specific files and folders and even free space; which I’m sure can be useful to a lot of people.

DVD Flick – It’s easy enough to rip DVDs. Not that easy to create them. This app works like a charm. How it works is best explained here.  (Note: My player is on the fritz, so I’m yet to actually test run the DVDs I created with this. )

OpenOffice – I’ll be honest here. I doesn’t hold a candle to MS Office. Particularly for power users. But all in all, still very solid. Impress’s ability to export to swf is a gem of an idea. It’s come far from version 2.2 (my first), but I wonder where Cloud-based collaboration is going to take it .

Grooveshark – As far as internet music streaming portals go, there is no better interface around. My humble opinion. And it keeps getting sexier. There are plenty of reviews and shootouts on who’s got the smartest recommender, who’s got the best collection, yada-yada..so I won’t get into that mess. I think a lot of that depends on what music you’re looking for, and for my tastes, grooveshark is great.

Remember the Milk – There’s only 1 way I’d recommend RTM. That is in conjuction with this nice AIR app which brings the whole thing to a very compact desktop version. While I need to keep most (including all work) on Outlook Tasks, I like the ‘just works, no fuss-no muss’ aspect of RTM/RTT.

List.it – A post-it extension for firefox. Nothing more, nothing less. Clean modern interface, responsive and not to bloated a download. Even comes with a search. The brilliant aspect of it is the ability to customize look ‘n feel of the sidebar. That plus the search move list.it from just useful to straight up interesting.

Photofunia – Photofunia is a gimmick. But a whole lot of fun gimmick.  Well done face recognition plus a range of backgrounds and effects, some of which are very creative. One of those sites that gets eminently more fun after a few shots.

Aviary – There are no limits to how much I like Aviary. I’ve blogged about them before, and they merited a re-inclusion here. A suite of cloud-based computer graphics tools which has grown over time and recently been made entirely free.  Not in the class of commercial desktop applications of course, but beautifully designed, easy to use, and quite fast.

Zotero – Inclusion of this firefox extension is a contentious one in my head. It breaks a major tenet of good extension-ness for me, being a massive near-1mb download. It does, however, provide excellent bang for the buck.

A near fully self-contained researching tool, it saves sources, links, text, etc. It adds powerful functionality to automatically scan and save all reference links from pages such as wikipedia. It has also added synchronization and collaboration functionality since I last used it.

I wonder just how much English professors are going to hate this tool.

tinychat.com – nyuk nyuk nyuk. This site is so cool, so easy and so fun. The concept hasn’t changed since they started – creation of an ‘instant’ private chatroom with its own specific URL. The chatroom exists so long as there are people in it. They’ve since enhanced the room to include audio and video feeds, a whiteboard and a slew of social networking integrators. Other interesting stuff are the API and permanent chatrooms or channels (including a 4chan channel).

Zune – The desktop music application. Not the device. Pretty massive a download (but then, what from MS isn’t?) and a hog on system resources, but a beautiful layout, well integrated with windows as both a compact player and Windows-taskbar-toolbar. Featuring the usual new-wave music player components like marketplace integration and “smart DJ”, its the ease and simplicity that classical features like creation of playlists and browsing collections have been implemented that sets this apart.  Personally, the addition of a single-click button to “play all music shuffled” is a blessing.

It appears to borrow a lot from the visual philosophy of the Iphone/Ipod touch, which is a welcome departure from the antiseptic look of WMP and Itunes and the painfully cramped feel of Winamp.

Wubi – Wubi is a godsend for self-professed geeks who want a Linux environment but dont want to go through the slightly-scary process of creating a dual-boot machine and cannot afford VMWare. It claims to be fully-self contained Ubuntu-in-windows installer. I say claims because I just discovered it a week ago, and haven’t tested it yet.

ScreenToaster – A well-built, relatively lag-free screen recorder. Easier to use than vlc player, more basic and enough for my needs compared to Camtasia. I’m recording as I type right now. The only concern here is privacy, since the recording is done on the cloud and the finished recording then needs to be saved locally (or youtubed). They have a privacy policy here, which doesn’t clear the air much, but then I’m no lawyer.

Embedr – I love these ‘leave out the vowels’ names. Embedr makes embeddable playlists of embeddable videos from around the web.

Zemanta – is another firefox extension. And a clever one at that. Stated well by their own site –

“Zemanta is a tool that looks over your shoulder while you blog and gives you tips and advice, suggests related content and pictures and makes sure your posts get promoted as they deserve to be.”

Zemanta is an interesting idea, but still as a way to go. On wordpress, it adds a link-insertion bar below the typing window and richer-content  insertion pane on the right. It does need work on two aspects – bloat / response times and the intelligence of generated content. So far, barely 10% of what Zemanta has generated has been contextually relevant. Hopefully this will oncrease with time if it ‘learns’. All in all, its still a good investment of your bandwidth to download.

One major concern I add downloading this is just how it was going to change the editing page. Its not too intrusive for me, a quick screenie to illustrate:

zemanta on wordpress

Ted.com – There are few things as intellectually stimulating on the ‘net as TED.com. The ‘rated jaw-dropping filter’ is a great way to start. Stop wasting time here.

5min – 5min is perfectly in keeping with the gloriously short (and thus more intense) attention-span of the internet generation. A wikihow on video with a bunch of other stuff too, this is excellent for certain things like finding fitness videos.

The Big Picture – Boston.com – Stop wasting time reading this blog. Just visit the link. It’s fairly self-explanatory, and words aren’t enough to describe the level of cool on display here.

Ask Ken – AskKen is a simple tool. Think of it as a visual version of Wikipedia’s “related links” section and you’ll do fine. While not yet something that will replace google/wikipedia or even Woolfram, a good bit of fun nonetheless.

Tone Matrix by AM Lab – AM Lab generally, and ToneMatrix in particular are absolutely brilliant. AM Lab is the website of Andre Michel, posts a lot of audio-tools and synthesizers coded in flash/shockwave, all of which are fantastically cool. The best, imho is tonematrix. it is essentially a grid of buttons, each associated with a specific tone.  Clicking a ‘button’ activates the tone and combinations can be used to create simple tunes. It’s remarkably easy to create interesting, toe-tapping tunes, the only drawback being an inability to save. (other than with a screenshot).  Stuff makes me wish I paid more attention back in Digital Signal Processing class in college.

8bitpeoples – Remember the beep-bip-beeeeep-beep music on the gameboys and N64s of yore? Here’s a site run by a group of people who make that music. Remarkably catchy.

We are Hunted – We are hunted is so cool. I do not get the logic behind the name, but whatever. A music aggregation site based of what people are talking about and listening to on the ‘net. Its a reasonable certainty that at any time none of the top artists are household names. That’s what makes we are hunted a great music discovery vehicle. More here.

And that’s that. A compendium of a lot of the cool stuff I’ve come across on the net in the last year or so. Hope it was worth it.

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