30 April 2010

I Am Not A Robot

Listening to: Florence and the Machine, "Dog Days Are Over." When we hit London next month, I'm going to prep by creating a special mixtape of British musicians. Florence and the Machine are new to me but she'll be on the mix for sure. I think her big track is "You've Got the Love." And this is the original of that song, from 1991 by The Source.

It's come to my attention that some people don't know about the wonders of Google Reader. I thought this was something that had hit the mainstream but somehow RSS readers are still slept on. Now, I understand people don't have time to be skimming the Internet all day long, or aren't necessarily addicted to the computer like I am, but that's exactly why Reader is amazing. One of my first Internet sites was simply a list of links to sites and blogs I read daily. I'd go through and click on every single link hoping for an update. Hop over to ESPN for an article, go check headlines at CNN, cruise a few blogs, click click click. Talk about time consuming and backward. People are still doing it that way though.

Just in the past month I've had to personally berate a handful of friends -- whom I thought were Internet savvy -- and publicly shame them into using Reader. "Of course you don't know what's going on, you are still wandering the Internet with a candle you dummy."

It's okay, I'm not (only) here to judge, I'm here to help. See, Google Reader eliminates the constant clicking and checking for new content by updating you when something is posted. Ninety five percent of all sites now have a RSS feed that allows you to subscribe to their content. When a site posts something new, it immediately pops up on your one stop Reader site. If a web page only posts once a month, that's okay, because Reader will alert you when it does. No more clicking and wishing and hoping. Reader is about convenience and efficiency. Who doesn't need that?

The only downside of using Reader (or another RSS reader) is that your Internet cruising might become too efficient. Instead of checking just five or ten sites a day, you'll find that you can keep your eye on dozens, or even hundreds, of sites. I for one, RSS anything I'm remotely interested in so I get Reader bloat quickly. I fight to keep it down but even now I'm at 600+ sites and climbing.

The other fun thing about Reader is that you can share items between people and see what your friends are looking at. Reader also has a "sort by magic" option that works pretty well once you've integrated it. Most of my Reader reading is done on my iPhone and it's very easy to star and share items with it. Most nights and mornings, as I'm drifting off to bed or trying to wake up, I pull up Reader in Safari and cruise through the news of the day.

Another great feature about Reader is that you can create bundles of your feeds. This way, your friends can just subscribe to all the feeds you recommend in one easy click. Like here's my bundle of fifty or so sites, think of it as a starter set of feeds if you don't have anything to subscribe to yet. Thank me later.

I can't believe I had to post about Google Reader but seriously, it'll make your life better.

On a related note. I have four things I'm looking for in a date. One of them is "she must have Gmail." Yes, it's that serious. I know people still have Yahoo or Hotmail or whatever but not having Gmail is just silly. People may not like the threaded conversations, the plainness of the design, the "not another email address" mindset. But I'm here to tell you: Gmail is the greatest. Unless you are wary of Google bots skimming your email for advertising reasons (which is the only legitimate anti-Gmail excuse I accept), you should make a Gmail account. Heck make two. One for personal use, one for Internet sign ups and/or business. Even as I write this I'm guiding a friend through the Gmail process. With it she'll be accessing Google Reader, Calendar, Docs, Blogger, Voice, and a whole host of other goodies.

When Gmail first came onto the email block, they set themselves apart by offering huge amounts of space. "Don't ever throw anything away" was their philosophy. While other email providers gave you a paltry four megs or whatever it was, Google was like, "Here's a gig of space, have fun." That forced other email providers to up their ante, open the storage vaults, and now we have a world with virtually unlimited email space. Thank you Gmail.

If you have an email address that has Yahoo or Hotmail appended to it, or heavens forbid, an AOL or Earthlink or NetZero account, it's time to switch. Think about it, you don't use the same computer from ten years ago, why use the same email provider? Just try out Gmail I say! Archive everything, keep your inbox clean, make a label or filter or two, slap on a fun theme, fire up some Gmail Labs, and see the difference it can make in your life.

Also if you're still downloading songs one by one, through Limewire or Kazaa or Napster or homing pterodactyl or something like that, I'd love to talk your ear off about torrenting. If you love music and download stuff, this could change your world. Not that I download music or anything, never.

And while I'm here, if you're looking for just a few tracks at a time, BeeMP3 is nice. I don't know how it works or why it's legal but they have tons of music files just for the taking. Look on the right side after you find a song, and then the "Download MP3 for Free" section. Search and take I say, it's a wonderful world out there. Rock out.