I come across new and useful web applications and PC applications every day, that I generally test out, bookmark, and rarely get a chance to visit again. This is generally very sad because there are some applications I would LOVE to be using, but I know I could never find the time. It’s also sad because often I will completely forget about an amazing app, because I’ve forgotten to go back to it. For that reason, I am going to start a weekly (or monthly) feature where I list these “essential” apps that never get a chance to become as essential as they should be.
1. Songbird (http://www.songbirdnest.com)
Reading from their homepage, Songbird is “a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web.” which turns out to be a great explanation because using Songbird involves discovering excellent music review blogs, and mp3 search engines, and using Songbird to save and organize the music as you would do in iTunes. In fact, if you choose to go all the way with Songbird, it can import your iTunes/WMP/music library and become your full time music player. Songbird is open source and built on the same engine as Mozilla, which lends to it’s appeal.
Initially I spent weeks with Songbird, discovering new music to listen to, and uploading it to my iPod. It’s a great blog reader, allowing you to bookmark and revisit your favorite music blogs and quickly grab the music that they review, and it became part of my daily morning routine, finding new music to listen to during the day. The problem is that soon, my morning routine literally started to take up my whole morning, so Songbird started to gather dust. I still load it up from time to time to find new music, but it deserves more love than I’ve been giving it, so hopefully it can cheat on me with you and get a little more action.
2. coComment (http://www.cocomment.com)
I found coComment while doing a competitive analysis for my own business idea – which was to create a way to keep track of all of the comments I was leaving on various blogs, and to create a social network around people who comment on the same blogs I was commenting on. coComment was already doing a great job of this (albeit without the social aspect), so I was happy to begin using the service rather than attempt to recreate it. coComment can work as a Firefox plugin, or as a bookmarklet. As you post on blogs, coComment records your comment, and then begins to monitor those comment threads and update you as others comment, or respond to your comment. It’s like subscribing to email notifications of comments without cluttering your inbox.
I still use coComment today, but I rarely check it directly anymore, and instead I’m content to let it keep track of my comments in case I ever need to reference them. It’s a great service for that, and it has other great features as well, such as networking with other people through their comments, and promoting your comment threads to the community which can help drive traffic to your website.
3. Mixwit (http://www.mixwit.com)
Mixwit isn’t the only site allowing you to create and share mp3 mixtapes, but it’s my favorite because you can label and select from real cassette tape images. I love the idea of exchanging mixtapes online, it’s a great way to discover new and old songs, and to get to know people through their musical tastes. It’s also a great time saver when you’re going for long drive and want to bring great music!
As will each of these great apps, you need to make time to take advantage of them. It’s a great service to bookmark for discovering new music, and it’s even better in combination with Songbird. Also, check out Muxtape.
4. Herd St. (http://herdst.com)
Herd St. started out as Stockalicious. I found them while looking for a great online stock portfolio management tool. Herd St. surpassed my expectations, because they not only offered excellent portfolio management, but the ability to create fantasy portfolios for testing your trading theories. Herd St. allows you to create public portfolios and compare them to other members, and to follow those other member’s picks to learn to trade better.
While Herd St. allowed me to easily enter in my historical data from the last 2 years of trading, it’s hard to completely move away from my online broker’s tools, as bad as they are. I am looking forward to giving Herd St. another chance now that I see they offer feeds and widgets, which would allow me to bring my charts onto my start page where I can see them easily. The honest truth is I’ll migrate to the first portfolio management system that offers a data export API, which would allow me full use of my stock trading data.
5. Miro (http://www.getmiro.com)
Miro is the killer app for video that I’ve always wanted. It is able to organize internet tv, bitorrent downloads, youtube videos, and other video media the way that iTunes organizes your music. It is smart, and a time saver, because Miro enables you to subscribe to bittorrent through RSS and download video automatically, the way that iTunes handles podcasts. It comes with most of the video codecs you need to play most videos you will find, and it is a great way to discover internet tv shows and channels.
I’m not sure why I don’t use Miro more than I do. After reviewing it, I really have no choice but to kick myself for not using Miro and saving time. Why am I using uTorrent and VLC to play downloaded video?
6. Google Notebook (http://www.google.com/notebook)
Google Notebook is incredibly useful for research online, especially if you are a blogger. It allows you to copy text, images and links into a scrapbook, and organize them into folders. You can also comment on each item you clip to your notebook. You can then access these notes from your Google account, so they are available to you from any computer. Google Notebook can be used with a handy Firefox extension. They even have a mobile version that allows you to view your notes from your mobile phone.
When I use Google Notebook, I use it a lot. I use it to collect research for blog post ideas, and business ideas. The problem with Google Notebook, is that I envision it being used for so much more. This could be the new way to bookmark, rather than using traditional bookmarks or even del.icio.us. The problem is that after a while, it becomes cumbersome, and hard to tag your links, webclips, and ideas. I am looking forward to reviewing Evernote, as I am hoping that service can be what I hope Google Notebook can one day be.
7. Flock (http://www.flock.com)
Flock calls itself The Social Web Browser, and it does a great job. It is powered by Mozilla Firefox, and can make use of all of the extensions that Firefox can use. It is customized to integrate with social networks such as Facebook, Youtube, Flickr and Twitter, so that you can easily view updates from each service directly from a sidebar in the browser. It also has many blogging tools built in, featuring webclips (similar to Google Notebook) and the ability to post directly to your blog. While most of these features can be installed into Firefox through various extensions, Flock does it all right out of the box, and it’s very well designed.
Unfortunately, I found Flock unstable, although many users find it more stable than Firefox. Flock is a great browser that I would love to use in theory, but I found it to clutter my browsing experience, rather than simplify it. I’d love to give Flock another try in the future, maybe when they release their next update.