Blots of Info

06 February 2011

Android Market On The Web

I recently made the switch to a smartphone running Android. The phone comes with access to the Android Market, a collection of applications (apps) one can download and use on the phone. Up until recently, this was only available on the phone. This makes sense, since one would browse the market, select an app and then install it on the phone.

While accessing the market on the phone worked ok, I found it annoying to just browse through long lists of apps. Perhaps it is my phone, perhaps my wifi network, but it would sometimes be quite slow. Now the market is available as a web site as well, at https://market.android.com/. This makes browsing a lot easier. I find myself looking through available apps more often than before, during moments of boredom (ahem) at my desktop.

I wonder if I am just too old-fashioned to use a smartphone

15:27:00 - 02/06/11 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - 2 comments karma: 65 [+/-]

28 February 2010

Online Bird Watching

For those readers interested in bird watching, you no longer have to go outside to have an opportunity to see Dutch birds. Over at the site of the Dutch Bird Protection organisation, you can view live web cam streams of 7 (soon to be different types of birds, including owls and storks.

I could have sworn I posted about this site or a similar one previously, but I cannot find my own post about it. How odd.

[Source]

15:53:03 - 02/28/10 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - No comments karma: 26 [+/-]

02 June 2008

Take A Walk With Walk Score

If you ever wondered how easy it would be to get all your shopping done by walking instead of driving, check out Walk Score. Enter an address and Walk Score returns a map with the most important stores, restaurants and other locations nearby. It returns a score that tells you how well suited your location is for walking. The closer all important locations are, the higher the score.

When you use Walk Score, it is good to keep in mind that it will not know of all the important locations nearby. Especially for non-US addresses, or so it seems. For instance, if I check this Amsterdam (NL) address, it tells me the closest grocery store is 52 km (32 mi) away. It also told me I'd have to travel at least 8 miles to find a bookstore near my own home, although there is something that should qualify as a bookstore just around the corner.

Walk Score is an entertaining site to see what kind of area friends and family live in. It can also be helpful when you are considering moving to a different location. It can then tell you how easy it would be to leave your car at home and get your shopping done walking. More exercise, less money spend on gas, and more environmentally friendly.

22:06:32 - 06/02/08 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - 1 comment karma: 8 [+/-]

16 May 2008

Sending Large Files By Mail

Years ago, I mentioned Dropload and YouSendIt as ways to easily mail large files to someone. Since then, I came across several alternatives. Most recently, LifeHacker took a look at some services.

Saying these services are a way to mail large files is not quite correct of course. You don't really mail anything except a donwload link. Your files are uploaded to a website and stored there. Not the safest thing to do, so make sure you are not sharing any private or copyrighted data. Saying you are sharing files is more correct than saying you are mailing them. Most of these services have a limit of 100 MB per uploaded file. Some allow storage of many GB's, but still impose the 100 MB/file limit. This is rather annoying if you want to mail share a larger file. Not all home videos are small and low quality, after all.

Filemail is currently in beta and it lets you share up to 2 GB with a free account. Simply upload the file, enter the address of the recipient and press send. If you worry about sharing any email addresses, leave the email blank and press send. This way you will get a download link that you can mail to the recipient yourself.

When you upload files, you can opt to set a password. You can also decide how many days the download should be available, and how often the file can be downloaded. Notification of 'pick up' is also available. It looks like premium accounts include the option of encrypting files on the server. I have no clue how reliable that is, since you probably still have to upload them unencrypted first.

Overall, I found filemail extremely easy to use, the first time I gave it a try. I like being able to set an expiration for the files I upload. At least that gives me the illusion of not polluting the net with my crap.

22:04:13 - 05/16/08 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - No comments karma: 8 [+/-]

01 February 2008

The TSA Blogs

Now there's a surprise. The folks responsible for security on commercial planes have decided to start a blog. Well, someone in the TSA office has. An interesting attempt to reach out to the public, and I'm curious to see how this turns out. The blog is called Evolution of Security.

Right now the frequency of posting seems to be high. So high, that I doubt they'll keep this up. After a while, the really pressing issues (that everyone will complain about forever) have been dealt with and there is nothing new to say. Then what kind of topics are left? There is only so much you can say, when all people want to talk about is taking off their shoes and not being allowed to bring their drinks on board.

One thing the blog does achieve, is getting noticed. Plenty of comments by people, some even on topic and to the point. Comments are screened, but going by the comments currently present, it seems you'll have to be pretty rude to not get your comment approved. At the same time, my comment still hasn't been approved after 8 hours or so. Which makes me wonder, is this a very slow process, or was it not according to their policy or unpublished for some other reason? I'll check again tomorrow, of course, since I'm curious. A slow approval process is annoying though, because now my comment is merely repeating what a dozen people before me already said. People who's comments were not approved yet when I commented, so I didn't know. Had I read all those comments, I wouldn't have bothered.

22:09:27 - 02/01/08 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - 2 comments karma: 3 [+/-]

17 December 2007

Temporary Mail Addresses

Sometimes you need an email address to sign up for something, but you don't want to use your real address. I wrote about one service where you can sign up for an extra address that is only valid for a couple of hours, called jetable.

The recent Dutch version of C't Magazine mentions two other service, 2prong and 10minutemail. I only tried 10minutemail and loved it, but it looks like 2prong comes with a Firefox bookmarklet. Both services (let you) copy the mail address to your clipboard so you can easily enter it when signing up for something. Both sites check your mail in the browser, so leave those pages open. True to its name, 10minutemail stops checking mail and discards your address after 10 minutes. Since you can bookmark a 2prong address, it seems those addresses will remain available for a longer period of time.

10 Minutes is usually enough to receive mails, but I know of some sites that are extremely slow in sending download links over mail. In those cases, 10 minutes would not be enough, and 2prong or Jetable would be preferable.

19:17:05 - 12/17/07 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - No comments karma: 17 [+/-]

21 September 2007

Online Hearing Impairment Risk Checker

Is your hearing at risk if you listen to an mp3 player all day long? I would think so, but perhaps some people need to be convinced. It seems kids in particular have a tendency to play their music at high volume even when wearing ear buds.

The Dutch site mp3check.nl tells people if they run a risk of hearing impairment based on six factors related to their mp3 listening habits. People are asked (in Dutch) what kind of music they listen to, which mp3 player they use (I guess to determine the maximum volume output), the kind of ear buds used, the volume setting (as a percentage), and frequency of mp3 use (in times per day and days per week). Of course, listening to music with the volume at 100% for hours a day is not good.

The mp3 players and ear buds listed are pretty limited and mp3-capable phones are missing, but it is a start. I guess the site might make people more aware of the fact that there can be a risk even when not running the music at full volume. I wonder how many people will really come away from this site convinced they should change their behavior though. Even less of them actually will change their behavior. Then again, every person who does lower the volume to prevent damage is a good thing. Especially when they happen to sit next to me on the bus or train.
[Source]

20:15:18 - 09/21/07 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - No comments karma: 2 [+/-]

20 September 2007

Commercial Software For Free ... Legally

So you like your software for free? Then there is a legal alternative besides Open Source. Open Source is good, of course, but not all applications are available in an open source version. Sometimes a commercial product is just what you need. Pricing of commercial software may keep you form purchasing it though, so you are left feeling unsatisfied.

Giveaway of the Day may be what you need. This sites offers one licensed application per day. If you download and install it within the 24-hr time frame set by the site, you get to use it for free. You cannot download and install it later, it has to be done during the “promotional” period. This also means that if you ever lose the application, like due to a system crash, you cannot reinstall it.

There is also a sister site for free games: Game Giveaway of the Day, which I didn't notice before. What a shame, it looks like it offered some interesting games recently.

Both Giveaway sites claim there is no spyware or adware involved, and right now I have no reason not to believe them. Use it at your own risk though, I think the software will connect to the internet when installing. (it's been a while since I actually installed something)

The software you get this way often comes with limitations regarding support though. So no support if you're a cheapskate and install the software this way. But hey, if you find a program that is good enough to keep and you need support, you can always buy the product just for the support.

21:54:10 - 09/20/07 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - No comments karma: 5 [+/-]

12 August 2007

Play Your Music Online

Anywhere.FM lets you upload your music to its site, so you can listen to it in your web browser, from any computer with Internet connection. It also comes with social aspects, like making friends and play lists.

I am a bit hesitant about this service, because it seems it lets you set up a 'radio channel' other people can listen to as well. Which would probably not be legal, unless anywhere.fm has a way (for you) to pay all legal fees. Still, if you just use it as your own personal online player and music storage site, it seems like an interesting concept. Great when you use several computers, even more so when you are not allowed to install your own files on those computers, or run your own cd's. I haven't tried the service yet, so I can't tell you how much of a hassle it is to upload music. If you have an account and want to let me know, feel free to do so by commenting.

[Source]

17:18:09 - 08/12/07 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - No comments karma: 10 [+/-]

09 July 2007

Get An Amazon Refund For Price Drops

It seems Amazon has a policy that lets you claim a refund if the price of an Amazon item you bought drops within 30 days of your purchase. You have to fill out an online refunds claims form, and they will examine your claim. If it turns out to be correct, they will refund you the price difference. If that new book you bought for $24.99 drops to $20.99 two weeks later, you will get a $4 refund. This is a great policy, as it motivates people to buy stuff right now, rather than wait for the possibility of a price drop. It also diminishes the odds of that nasty feeling when you find something cheaper, just days after you bought it.

Really though, who remembers to visit Amazon on a regular basis during those 30 days after a purchase, to check for changes in price? Enter Refund Please, a site that does most of the work for you. Go to the site, enter the item you bought, date of purchase, and price you paid, and the Refund Please will mail you as soon as it sees a lower price. The mail contains a link to the refunds claims form, so you just click and request the refund. It doesn't get much easier. Yes, this works, I just tried it. Granted, it was less than $1.50, but still, better to start start small.

21:45:22 - 07/09/07 - RB - Category: Interesting sites - - No comments karma: 9 [+/-]
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