Jesse Jarnow

useful things

useful things, no. 13

o The links I post in this category are generally hacks, and free ones at that, but this $1600 Optimus Maximus keyboard where each button is a custom screen is just too cool.
o YouConvertIt goes from format-to-format for you. Awesome and amazingly handy in theory, but it sometimes has been wicked slow when I’ve tried to use it. It did do what I wanted it to do–rip a YouTube video into an mp3–though it only did so at 64 kbps and didn’t tag it all. Drag.
o SoundSnap has free loops and sound effects. (Thx, Michael.) (I think/suspect.)
o TabMixPlus is a plug-in browser-tab management system for FireFox. Allegedly, heads have been using it to set TicketMaster pages to reload automatically when shows go on sale. Haven’t tried it personally, but it seems like it’d work. (And couldn’t be worse than the Dylan on-sale last week when one had to stop loading the TM page with split-second precision in order to buy the tickets.)
o GoogleEarth-based atlas of album cover art. Perhaps not useful, but a solid database and a functional time waster.
o The Forvo database pronounces words in their original language. Wowzers. Maybe now I can learn how to say those Brazilian/Portuguese song titles properly.

useful things, no. 12

The twelfth in an ongoing collection of functional webpages anddork- like tools (excluding any/all Google programs)

o The new and old bins at WFMU, complete with notes from music director Brian Turner and other DJs.

o More online mixing at muxtape.

o Melodyne promises “direct note access” polyphonic sampling. I suspect technology like this might be similar to alchemy or divining rods, but I’m sure it’ll work for some people.

o Notable digital archives from newspapers and magazines, for free and for pay.

o Omnisio allows the user to make YouTube playlists which join together multi-part movies.

o Scribd is a free OCR scanning service.

o Sorry, a break with the self-imposed ban on Google tools ’cause it’s too cool: GoogleEarth now layers current New York Times headlines over its maps, so one can read the news geospatially.

useful things, no. 11

The eleventh in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dorklike tools (excluding any/all Google programs)

o The Belkin Podcast Studio looks totally dope, though I lovelovelove the DL elegance of the iTalk and can’t imagine it’d possibly improve on that.

o C86 is a mixtape app. (Word, xian.)

o A time calculator. Super useful. Crappy interface.

o Ask Sunday. Still wrestling with morality of outsourcing interview transcription tasks, but that’s topic for another post. That aside, this is a sort of an amazing idea, and I might have to try it on general principle.

useful things, no. 10: write room

“Paperback Writer” – The Beatles (download, regular) (buy, karaoke)

Over the weekend, I asked Spupes how to create a user account on my computer with all temptation-abetting internet capabilities blocked. Instead, he told me about WriteRoom, a text editor that takes over the computer’s full screen, literally blacking out all other apps in an emulation of a no-fuss ’80s-style word processor. By necessity, a screenshot could never convey exactly what is so wonderful about this program, so I’m not gonna try. Conceptually, it raises some interesting points about the usefulness of the complex, multitask-enabling GUIs that’ve become the norm versus the efficiency of one-track productivity. Practically, it’s just awesome. Or maybe it’s just a nice change of virtually scenery after 10+ years of Microsoft word processing products. Either way, I’m looking forward to getting up tomorrow and using this.

useful things, no. 9

The ninth in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork tools (excluding any/all Google programs)

o A guide to free wifi hotposts.
o Send free text messages to any mobile phone via the webz.
o Skip the thumbnails in Google’s image search.
o Trade oodles of used CDs for credit at and they’ll even send the goods first, along with an empty box and return postage for whatever’s being traded.
o It ain’t free (cost me $50), and it’s impossible to truly set levels, but the purchase of Griffin’s iTalk gizmo seems well worth it already — even if I haven’t used it yet to tape an interview or bootleg a show. Those will come soon. Excepting an emergency flashlight next to my bed, I no longer have any device that requires a constant diet of double-A batteries. Weird!

useful things, no. 8

The eighth in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork tools (excluding any/all Google programs)

o Virgil Griffith’s WikiScanner lets you see which organizations’ employees are editing Wikipedia entries.
o TV Links: full movies, TV shows, etc.., organized fairly immaculately. Like YouTube, if the Man never noticed it.
o provides international calling card codes at cut rates waaay better than the bodega.
o TubeTV allows the user save videos from YouTube and other embedded sources.
o Like Robert DeNiro’s renegade plumber in Brazil NYC iPod Doctor does out-of-service/unauthorized iPod repairs on street corners — and now, apparently, via the mails. We’re all in this together.

useful things, no. 7

The seventh in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork tools (excluding any/all Google programs)

o Should you be using Entourage ’01 for your email, and should you reach the 2 GB storage limit they take no measures to warn you about, and should your whole email database proceed to meltthefuckdown and corrupt your archives and cause you three days of freakation and frustardedness, I would then whole-heartedly endorse paying $18 for EntourAid.

o Handbrake allows you to easily rip mpegs from DVDs. Sadly, my laptop is way too slow to run it effectively. Someday I’ll get the whole ’86 series on my iPod and watch the innings in shuffle.

o iConcertCal searches your iTunes library and tells you what bands are coming to town.

o Haven’t f’ed with it yet, but Peel seems like a good utility to organize blog listening.

o The iTunes linkmaker allows you to generate URLs that pop right into the iTunes store.

useful things, no. 6

The sixth in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork tools (excluding any/all Google programs).

o Since the cat seems to be out of the bag, the coolest thing ever: Critical Metrics, a rated singles aggregator. It begins.
o OttoBib — An automated bibliography generator. Just enter ISBNs and click “Get Citations.” Man, I wish I had this when I was in school.
o BookMooch — Trade used books with peeps. (Thx, VB.)
o — Semi-permanent freebie web storage, up to 1 GB. (Word, Dean.)
o Writer’s Dreamtools — Their URL is no joke.

useful things, no. 5

The fifth in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork tools (excluding any/all Google programs).

o — Print books, hardcover or softcover, color or otherwise, with no minimum order. Quick turnaround, too. (Thx, MVB.)
o — People search. Remember when there was just, like, a phonebook? (Kaw!)
o DownThemAll — Download all the links on a page with this Firefox extension.
o ZipCar — The other night, I watched a friend arrange a ZipCar so he could pick up his cousin at the airport. Bloody amazing.
o Hype Machine — Besides aggregating the latest leaks, the search function is also an easy way to keep up with b-sides, radio sessions, and the like. If only it didn’t buffer so often.

useful things, no. 4

The fourth in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork tools (excluding any/all Google programs).

o Newsroom Navigator — A veritable almanac of useful links to stuff like telephone directories, government records, reference sources, and tons of other pages, designed for the staff of the New York Times.
o VideoDownloader — A Firefox plug-in to save streaming videos.
o Audio Hijack — An application save streaming audio.
o — A mind-boggling list of PDFs of users’ manuals for just about any piece of equipment you can think of.
o –“The world’s largest how-to manual,” they boast, and they might be right. Definitely an interesting use of the wiki. I haven’t played with this site too much yet, but it’s good to know about. (Thanks, Holly!)

useful things, no. 3

The third in an ongoing collection of functional webpages and dork tools (excluding any/all Google programs).

o BitPim — Get into your phone’s file structure and remove or add any data you need. (Having trouble? Poke around the and you might find an answer.)

o TextPayMe — In one of our periodic life-as-sci-fi freakouts, my friends and I got to fantasticatin’ about the day one will be able to transfer money via text message. Unbeknownst to us (but apparently knownst to Rachel) the day is already here. Can’t wait to try this out.

o Encyclopedia — A mini-Wikipedia for the iPod! Hot diggity, this is like a real-life Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Thanks, BB.)

o AbeBooks — Sure, Amazon can find you anything you’d want, but AbeBooks’ network of independent used booksellers probably can, too, and with way more character, taboot.

useful things, no. 2

The second in an ongoing collection of functional webpages (excluding any/all Google programs).

Two search tools:
o OneLook Reverse Dictionary — If getting stuck on a word is like having something stuck between your teeth, the reverse dictionary is pretty decent floss. (Thanks, Mayur.)
o Retrievr — A prototype, but a pretty cool concept: draw the image you’re looking for and see what comes back. I tried drawing distinct frop-pipe smoking Dobbsheads, but it didn’t pull anything back. Hopefully, it’ll improve. (Thanks, SearchBlog.)
One utility of dubious legality:

o BugMeNot Firefox plug-in — Last time, I mentioned BugMeNot, a handy site to bypass website registrations. If you use Firefox, this plug-in will apparently automate it for you. (I do use Firefox, but haven’t had a chance to try this yet.) (via BoingBoing, of course.)

And a pair of NYC-centric pages:
o Interactive Transit Map — Okay, so it’s enabled by Google (but what isn’t these days?). This is an ace way to map your way to unfamiliar corners of the boroughs. (Courtesy o’ Kottke)
o NYC Transit Email Notification — Have the MTA’s central robot email you every week to let you know what the deal is with your trains. Especially useful for us shuttle-bus plagued Bourgwickians. (Found this my damn self!)

useful things

Besides obvious, everyday web tools — Wikipedia, the All Music Guide, the Internet Movie Database, Flickr, and such — I’ve come across a few other handy useful digital devices and information sources. Some are more utilitarian than others. There’s a lot of bullshit on the web, this blog fully included, and I have a certain fondness for pages that exist with genuine purpose.

o YouSendIt — A simple way to temporarily share files among groups of people without emailing them to everybody. Perfect for mp3s.

o — Shared logins for websites that require both free and paid registration, like the New York Times and MediaBistro. BugMeNot doesn’t always work but — when it does — it’s frickin’ sweet.

o PodWorks — This is one of the only pieces of downloaded software I have ever paid for. For a whopping $8, I can now copy music from my iPod back onto my computer, which is awesome, since my harddrive just isn’t big enough to hold all the music on my pod. By allowing me to copy songs, playlists, and albums, it converts my iPod from a play-only memory box into a functional harddrive.

o iWannaSleep — I like to listen to a really long shuffled playlist of quiet, purdy tunes while I’m falling asleep. This cute-as-a-button app is a sleep function for iTunes. Simple.

o Oblique Strategies widget — I have an old HyperCard edition of Brian Eno’s wondrous Oblique Strategies deck, though it clumsily opens OS 9 whenever I fire it up. I haven’t yet upgraded to OS 10.4 but, when I do, this Oblique widget will be my first download.

o Find A Human — If I call a customer support line, it’s generally because I can’t find the information I need online and would really like to speak to a person. I hate, hate, hate the hierarchy of menus I often have to go through to get there. Enter the IVR cheat sheet, which has come through with flying colors both times I’ve used it. Like the washing machine in the basement of my building that secretly only requires one quarter in the middle slot (shhhh!), these are video game codes for real life.

o The Hidden In-n-Out Burger — As a lifelong right-coaster, I admittedly have no practical use for the complete secret menu of In-n-Out Burger (those are good burgers, Walter), but some you westerly weirdoes might.