Apr 12

Here’s a random smattering of cool tools I’ve recently run across. In no particular order…

del.icio.us is a social bookmarking tool that let’s people collectively share their bookmarks. It’s neat because it color codes by popularity and allows for categorization of the links through tagging so you can scroll through and discover the gems that everyone else knew about by sheer popularity of the link. I was using it today and it helped me discover…

Craig’s List meets Google Maps - someone built an interface to craig’s list postings by incorporating the google maps API. By grafting two great services together, you get a scatterplot of the locations of housing listings in an easy-to-navigate format. beautiful.

ZoomInfo – I’m not exactly sure how this service does it’s thing but it works like a search engine that will compile a dossier on anyone realtime by seemingly stitching together various search results and company names. It was surpisingly accurate with my bio though I’m not sure how it melds together the correct info. Seems like it could be useful for getting a background on a key higher-up before an important first-meeting.

DropLoad - that’s what I almost did when I saw this simple yet ingenious little app. It allows you to move large files that are too big for email to friends using a simple one step process of uploading. It generates a notification with instructions for the person on how to pickup their files and will notify you when they’ve downloaded them. Free service, simple and useful instead of doing the ftp dance for moving big files that aren’t super-sensitive.

Billboard Tour Finder - you can search a database of tours to see what bands are coming to town and where your favorite bands are currently touring. It’s not perfect and doesn’t have every band but it’s pretty neat and has quite a few. I can’t figure out why nobody has created an app that will let you register your favorite groups and notify you via email when they come to town. Does such a thing exist?

IT Conversations – I’ve listened to about 30 various interviews and speeches now and they’re great. It’s for us proletariat class folks that can’t afford to go to all the snazzy IT conferences. You can still hear the keynotes and audience questions and best of all, do it on your own schedule and be able to replay the talks that are chocked full of good info. It has great organization of content and has a personal queueing system so you can tag the talks that seem interesting and have it remember what you’ve already listened to. It’s not just IT-centric programming either, there are interesting biogenetic and psychology topics- the kind of stuff that Wired magazine covers. Definitely makes my 22mi commute a little more tolerable in the morning.

iPodder – despite its name this app is not directly related to the iPod but it facilitates podcasting which is like RSS for MP3′s. Basically a content provider can syndicate their talkshow or other audio content by exposing a special RSS feed enabled with enclosures. iPodder is a client you install that will poll these sites for new audio content and download the MP3′s when your not looking. Combine it with the sites like the one above and you can have ala carte radio programming you design!

RSSauction – you can save a set of search parameters for an item you’re looking for on ebay and have it deliver results to you via RSS. This is a beautiful use of this technology and it seems strange to me that ebay does not offer this feature itself. I’m using it now to hunt down my next laptop and I can see this being a very useful way to keep track of numerous searches for gear on ebay.

These are my picks for the most useful tools I’ve run across lately. The consistent theme they all share is simplicity, focused scope and elegance in design. If you have other gems worth sharing, post them here.

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