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On the List (1)
("On the List" is an occasional filtering of worthy things to the surface. It's not weekly, it's not daily, it's occasionally. You may consider it occasional proof that there are still interesting things happening in technology, Virginia, despite, well, everything.)
1. The whole of The Cluetrain Manifesto, online. It makes so much sense it's practically seditious. The best two chapters in the book are Locke's, and it's great to be able to point deserving folk (like you!) to passages in "Post-Apocalypso" like this...
2. AIM bots. I'm making lots of friends on AIM lately, and the great thing is most of them are up as late as I am and will always answer my questions. It will be interesting to see if ActiveBuddy can actually make a business out of bots; IM is great, but it's clear they had their sites on being the WAP-killer, and we all know how well that whole wireless thing is working out. (While I'm on the subject, AB should stick to corporate apps; their Googlyminotaur was entirely too literal and lacked the irony, humor or pathos of everyone's favorite band.) Leave it to the indie wackos with way too much time on their hands to do the interesting shit: Andre Torrez' "memepusher" will deliver Metafilter headlines on demand (or push them to you automatically), Eamon Daly's "metalynxbot" puts Lynx in your AIM window, and Ben Brown has built an AIM interface into his HappyNetBox. Look for these sipbots coming to an IM client near you someday "soon": the one that only asks open ended questions, and collects the answers as evidence; the one that recycles tired technology themes from the archives of this very site ("so, what do you think of this whole push thing?"); and the one that delivers random snippets from a particular late 20th century American novel. (There's a fairly lively "discussion" happening in the instant messaging topic.)
3. Cygwin and the getclip / putclip utilities. Jesus, why the hell didn't someone tell me about this sooner? I know it's not the same as running full-blown *nix, but it makes life in Redmond that much more palatable. (Meta theme -- between being able to ls vi and cat in one window, and bot news headlines in another, my optical mouse may start to gather dust...)
4. Search results from Orbitz. Thanks to the slowdown in the economy (do not, I repeat, do not utter the R word), who knows if anyone's actually travelling anywhere anymore; the way airlines are pricing their flights you'd think that their aluminum cans are criss-crossing our bright blue skies entirely empty. Even if you're just dreaming of that late summer getaway, check out Orbitz -- anti-trust issues be damned -- for they have the single greatest search results format I've seen in a travel site. Period. It's a grid: airlines across the top, number of stops down the side. Want the United nonstop? Click in that cell. Willing to endure the layover, just to get the Delta miles? Click in that cell. It puts the price / convenience tradeoff in the hands of the user. Bravo.
5. Onthelist.com. Sold it. Made good money selling it, too.
6. Microsoft. The whole damn thing makes for such great theater. Just count all the hot MSFT threads over the past six months: dotNet, Hailstorm, Smart Tags, Allchin at the O'Reilly Open Source conference, Code Red, Code Red II, AOL v. MSN, Windows XP and Kodak, the appeals court ruling, the appeal the Supreme Court, the rush to get WinXP to market. I mean, my God they at least keep things interesting.
7. The PC. It's 20. The one on the desk stores about 30 gigs of encoded music and pumps out a stream of digital audio through its USB port to the stereo across the room. The one in my lap weighs three and a half pounds, has an 800 mhz chip, and is currently running an OS from the above-mentioned theater maker, some ten or eleven GUI applciations, and the text editor I'm writing in, which happens to predate the PC itself. The one in my pocket is constantly tuned to the wireless data network, pulls in my email automatically, stores my contact list, manages my calendar and synchs with the one in my lap.
8. Babycenter.com. Thank God for useful content. If you're a parent, you know.
9. Fuckedcompany. Yeah, yeah, schadenfreude, etc. But where else would I have learned that my former employer sold laptops at auction without wiping the harddrives, meaning that my HR history -- my name, home address, SSN, salary, bonus, option pool, reviews -- could very well be in the hands of some proud owner of a used Thinkpad. Thanks, Pud!
10. Homeportfolio.com. Could someone please explain to me how these folks are still in business? They're packed with useful information, they serve it up through well-planned tools, and help facilitiate collaboration amongst the three corners of the home improvement triumverate -- owners, architects and contractors. Reading their vague description of a revenue model convinced me that I hadn't actually stumbled up on a website, but rather a method of time travel. "My God, it's 1999 all over again..."
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