Smart Sites and Terrific Downloads
I got your attention with that video, I know, and trust me, it's funny. (It even got Game On's Matt Peckham over to my blog.) I don't want you scrolling just yet 'cause I have some productivity things for you first. Read on...
Share Big Files
I have a pair of big video files from our vacation; they're both a tad under a gigabyte. I've used YouSendIt and other services, but you know how it is with the Web--wait 20 minutes and a new service pops up. (Read about other sites in "Transfer Big Files" and "Sending Large Files Via the Internet.")
Drop.io (it reminds me of the "Old McDonald Had a Farm e i ee i o" song) is a handy spot to stick a file for friends to download. It's a snap to use because there's no registration required and no need to create an account. Give the Drop.io file a name, upload it, and send an e-mail link to your buddy (or use it as a private RSS feed).
Drop.io has extra doodads, enough so that I'm using it like crazy. For instance, you get a number to call so I can leave a voice blurb with the file. You can fax docs into a Drop, keep the file private or make the file available to a select group of friends, allow comments, and set an expiration date (or not). Play around with Drop.io and let me know what you've done with it.
MyBloop leans towards a way to give you a spot to upload and store files an unlimited number of files (up to one gigabyte each); it's also easy enough to share the files with others. About the only restriction is that you're unable to let others download music files. Instead MyBloop gives your buddies a way to stream your tunes.
Quick tip: You voted (okay, maybe not you), now see the results in "The Best Products: Readers' Favorites."
Free Tool Quickly Ejects USB Devices
Everyone needs to remove a USB device every so often; too bad the Safely Remove Hardware applet sitting in the System tray is so slow. I've been playing with the USB Disk Ejector, a nifty little freebie that lets you quickly remove USB devices--scanners, flash drives, external hard drives, whatever--by either the drive letter or name, or from the name of the program the USB device is using.
While you're here, take a look at "You Can't Beat USB."
Wow: Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope
It took Microsoft six years to refine the flawless scanning and panning capability of its Visual Experience Engine. You can see it in action using the WorldWide Telescope, a freebie that lets you poke around the universe. (Download it here.) WorldWide Telescope is a marvelous tool, and for a complex program, the interface is surprisingly intuitive. (If only they'd spent as long developing Office's interface...)
There's no doubt, though, you'll need decent bandwidth--WWT pulls just about everything from the Internet. And a big monitor will certainly enhance the experience. On my wife's 19-inch LCD everything looked good; on my 24-inch widescreen, it was breathtaking.
Once you have the WorldWide Telescope downloaded and installed, click the Guided Tours tab. It's a good spot to get a sense of the program's capabilities. You'll find 11 categories--Black Holes, Star Clusters, Planets, Supernova, Learning WWT, and others--and each has a handful of slide show tours created by experts.
Take a look: Apple's ads are usually sharp and funny, but some of the parodies of those ads are even better. See "The 10 Funniest Apple-Ad Parodies."
If you paid attention to the file sharing stuff above, your productivity level is high enough for you to spend some time with these decidedly unproductive time wasters.
Gaming is meaningless to me now... [Pay attention: This is a parody about prostitution. "I wouldn't let my 7-year-old watch it," says my editor, "but my game-obsessed teenage nephew will get a kick out of it."]
Do you like mindless games, things that take a couple of minutes to figure out? I have plenty: a dozen mental tests, almost 30 weird puzzles and memory teasers, and another 30 strategy games. They're all free on Mind Bluff, and they're perfect for those endless teleconferences.
You're getting old, don't kid me, and you can probably remember the LimeLighters. If that's true, then you'll get a kick out of the Playa Cofi Jukebox with songs from 1952 through 1982. Poke around--you'll find at least 40 songs for each year. [Thanks, Sandra.]
I watch Dirty Jobs, a Discovery Channel phenomenon. Mike Rowe, the host, is a charmer, with a snide, off-the-wall attitude. He delights in getting a chance to operate heavy machinery (yeah, it's a guy thing; live with it). You, too, can grab the controls of a backhoe and a big, beefy bulldozer, and haul rocks and dirt hither and fro. It'll cost you, though, because to get to Dig This you'll need to travel to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and pay $350 for a half-day or $650 for a full day of guilty pleasure. For that money, I'll bet they lend you a hard hat and a pair of steel-tipped boots.
Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of "PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer," available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.