Saturday, September 23, 2006

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

This post is dedicated to a dear friend of mine from high school -- in fact, a friend of mine still stuck in high school because he works there.

Having been born a generation too soon, he is uninitiated in many of the beneficial elements of the web. I'm taking this post to welcome him to my blog (I can't remember the negative phrase with which he dismissed blogging or I would turn it here), as well as to list some of the most basic yet influential webtools one should have at one's disposal. For anyone born after 1975, some of these may be a bit obvious. Add your own useful links in the comments section, as I'm interested in what others have distilled from the void.

The kids are blogging and networking at Blogger, LiveJournal, MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook.

Google is the best thing since sliced bread. Don't know it? Google it. Also useful for stalking old friends and lovers -- and your own web presence. Google is developing a lot of neat tools -- Maps, Images, Earth and the like -- which are often overlooked, even by extensive Google users.

Wikipedia is where you go when Google can't find what you're looking for, or any time you want the encyclopedia version of something.

Please tell me you know everything is for sale at Amazon, where, if nothing else, everyone can claim (via yours truly) only *two* degrees of separation from the #2 Amazon reviewer?

Good deals on shoes are to be had at Sierra Trading Post, Footprints, and Zappos.

Podcasts via iTunes You don't need an iPod to enjoy many of the benefits of digital media. Hundreds of Podcasts -- ranging from NPR broadcasts, to university lectures, to Italian lessons -- are available for free download once you have iTunes on your computer. An iPod just makes the whole endeavor portable.

Hospitality Club is a great way to find interesting people and interested hosts for the cities and countries you're longing to visit. The best part -- they let you crash for free! Travel longer and smarter.

LP's Thorntree A bulletin board site, allowing you to post questions to natives and travelers about the places you're planning on visiting. Usually thoughtful and helpful; another site that allows you to meet travelers or find hosts, if you're receptive.

Project Vote Smart I interned at this organization, based in the Montana Pintler Range. There are a lot of dedicated people working to save democracy, one iota of information about each candidate at a time.

Pandora is intuitive internet radio, shaped by your preferences.

At TimeAndDate, you can figure out what time it is in my part of the planet, countdown how many weeks, days, hours and minutes until whatever date you wish, know the day of the week of your conception, your birth, your graduation, anything.

The Universal Currency Converter will tell you how many dollars to the lita, how many litas to the pound, how many pounds to the dollar.

Check for flights using Orbitz and cross-check them at Kayak and the website for the airline you're searching.

Find out which cheap airlines in Europe fly where at WhichBudget.

I enjoy the weekly travel chat at The Washington Post.

Freecycle is a good way to get and unload the necessities and detritus of life by helping and being helped by others, free-like.

Find recipes by ingredient at RecipeZaar.

Find German words or their English translations at Leo. Find translators for myriad languages at Babelfish.

And this one, just for you Doc -- Make. Readers of Make Magazine submit their various and sundry projects, often complete with detailed instructions for you to follow along at home. For the geek in all of us.

There are naturally websites that I'm forgetting in my haste to post this entry. I'll add to the comments as I remember them, and hope others will do so as well.

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Doc!


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