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April 22, 2009 / jnolen

Things look a little different around here

Consider it a New Year’s Resolution late in arriving. I’ve missed blogging, and I’ve decide to recommit to it. Like all New Year’s resolutions, I don’t know whether it will really take. I don’t know if I can blog consistently for long. But I’m going to try.

As you can see, I did some spring cleaning around the old blog: swept out the cobwebs, cleaned the fridge, rearranged the furniture, The blog isn’t very different, but it has a few new features on the sidebars, and I’m finally using a legit TypePad template, rather than the custom one I built years ago — which will allow me to benefit from the many small improvements that the service makes over time.

One of the things I did when rebuilding the site was consider all the various places I exist on the internet. I actually asked myself the question: given Facebook and all of the other place where I represent myself online, do I even need a blog? But ultimately, I decided that I wanted one. I like having total control over my representation here. The page looks exactly like I want it to, and it contains exactly the information that I think is most important.

Take a look at the badges on the left of the blog. These represent the internet services that I use regularly. Some are old, some are new, but I thought it might be interesting to run through them, explain what they are for anyone who doesn’t know, and why I find them valuable enough to list first thing on my blog and use every day.


Flickr is still the best photo sharing site out there. Like all right-thinking people, I hope that it will survive Yahoo’s seemingly inevitable decline. Flickr lets you do exactly what you want to do and stays out of your way the rest of the time. The new, built-in integration with iPhoto is excellent. And the entire internet owes them a debt of gratitude for showing us all how to build a modern website with a great user experience, an unstoppable community and a powerful API. I don’t post a ton of photos there, just the best ones that I want to share.


This one is mine. My buddies and I built WishRadar to help me feed my insatiable music-buying habit. Using a slick bookmarklet, I wishlist the things I want, and WishRadar lets me know when the item drops to a price I’m willing to pay. Then I buy, buy, buy!


Given the aforementioned music-buying habit, it’s only natural that I go to a lot of concerts. Now that I finally live in a place with a national-calibre concert scene, it’s not easy to know about all the shows coming to town. SonicLiving is the best way to keep up with them. All I had to do is upload my iTunes library catalog, and SonicLiving sends me an email any time an artist from my library is coming through town. I get notified of the on sales dates and often the pre-sale information, and I’ve never missed a show since I started using SonicLiving. is music tracking and discovery service. Through an iTunes plugin, it tracks every song and album that I listen to. So I can go back in time and see exactly what I’ve listened to. For example, you can see the five albums I’ve played most in the last three months over on the right. is another oldy-but-goody. (And likely casualty of Yahoo’s implosion.) I read a lot of articles, and I often want to share them with friends and colleagues. lets me create online bookmarks that I can share. Feel free to follow those links if you want to know what I’ve found interesting lately (usually from a work-perspective).


I feel like I barely need to explain Twitter. But when I have something to say, and it’s shorter than a blog post, I use Twitter. Random thoughts, posted just as they occur. I don’t promise that my Twitter feed is interesting or witty, but it is frequent and immediate. You can see my most recent five updates on the right of the blog.


FourSquare is my new favorite thing. FourSquare is a social game that helps you explore your city and connect with friends. Or, for those of you who remember, it’s Dodgeball reincarnated. It’s super-fun, and I intend to say more about it later. But go check it out (and friend me, especially if you live in San Francisco.)


If FourSquare helps keep track of your social life at home, TripIt helps you keep track of your travel. I never felt like much of a jet-setter, but I do enough traveling that I could use some help keeping up with things. TripIt has a killer feature: all you have to do is email your confirmation emails to, and it will auto-magically create trips, itineraries and fill in all the details for you. Importing has been almost flawless so far. And it also lets you track the places you’ve been and how far and how often you’ve traveled.


Facebook, I assume, is the one I need least to explain. But here’s my profile, which pulls together a lot of the other data about my life and interests.

So, that’s my digital life in a nutshell. I’m sure that in three years when I reboot this blog again, I’ll have a different list of services I can’t do without. But right now, this is my indispensable internet toolkit.

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