Get Things Done Using These Web Base Applications
Goal of this article: Provide a list of useful web based applications and services that will help boost your productivity and enjoyment.
As a follow up to my previous 32 Free Applications that I Could Not Live Without article, I decided to list several web based applications and services that I also love. So many of the things that you used to do on your desktop can now be done on the web. This allows you to bring your apps from home, to work, to your friend’s houses. If you’re willing to sacrifice a few features (very few actually) you can do just about anything on the web these days. Here are some of my favorites.
Who Really Owns the Interwebs?
As I started compiling this list, I noticed that I use a lot of service provided by the major internet players. I listed the primary ownership of each service. 6 Google and 6 Yahoo properties made the list. Nobody else had more than one. I may have to consider spreading the love around a little more.
I divided the services into 5 categories:
- Social Networking
GMail – I typically prefer to work with a desktop email client, but for my personal emails, I love Gmail. The interface is simple and fast. You get tons of file storage and the threaded email conversations help you stay organized. Gmail allows you to tag your emails so that you can group, sort, and search them using any system that makes sense to you. The other nice thing is how it integrates with Gtalk, AOL IM, and RememberTheMilk (mentioned below) seamlessly. Ownership:
Yahoo Mail – If you really love the look and feel of MS Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Mozilla Thunderbird, then you’ll probably like Yahoo Mail. It is almost as nice as Gmail, but it resembles a desktop organizer. You have your email, address book, calendar, tasks, and notes laid out in a very organized view. My wife loves Yahoo, while I lean towards Gmail, there’s really no wrong answer. Ownership:
GrandCentral – Grand Central gives you a web based “Switchboard Operator”. You get one phone number that can be manually or automatically routed to any combination of your phone numbers. You can set different messages and hold music for different contacts. It really is an awesome system for the low, low price of nothing. Check it out, you’ll like it. Ownership:
Meebo – In a previous article I mentioned Pidgin as a desktop all-in-one instant messaging client. Well, if you want to integrate all of your IM networks from your browser, then Meebo does a great job. Register, set up your screen names, and voilla, you can chat with anyone. Now, when you’re at work, or your friend’s house, you can instantly get to your buddies. Ownership: Self Owned (as far as I can tell anyway)
Twitter – Did you ever see those stupid “Where You At?” commercials? Well this is similar. You and a group of friends can send 140 character long messages back and forth all day long. Do it from Twitter’s site, via email, text message, or other tools. It seems stupid, and then you’re hooked. Go figure? My Twitter Profile. Ownership: (basically self owned)
Google Reader – Read all of the latest updates from your favorite blogs, news, and websites in one spot via RSS. Google Reader has some great features for managing and reading your feeds. If you see an article that you like, you can Star it and Tag it for future retrieval. You can share articles with your friends too. I currently subscribe to about 150 feeds and Google Reader helps me handle it all easily. Ownership:
Bloglines – This is the other web based RSS reader that I like. It does most of the same things that Google Reader does and has a few other things too. Give them both a look and see which one feels best to you. Ownership:
The following three entries are Social Bookmarking sites, which help you find, bookmark, and suggest interesting websites among enormous communities of readers. They all have a different and interesting spin on the process. Each one has their own strengths and annoyances, but god help me, I love ’em. Ownership:
StumbleUpon – Probably the greatest time waster on my computer. StumbleUpon uses the suggestions and votes of other users to send you a never ending stream of new sites and pages to view. Grab an account, install the toolbar, click the Stumble button, and see what comes up. If you like it, give it a thumbs up, if not, thumbs down. Three hours later, you’ll be tearing yourself away from the screen with burning red eyes. My StumbleUpon Profile. Ownership:
Del.ico.us – When you see a site that you want to get back to later, you can use Del.ico.us to bookmark it to the web. You can add the URL, a description, and your own tags. It’s like your browser’s Favorites on steroids. Plus, you can get to it from any computer and you can share your bookmarks with your friends. My Del.ico.us Profile. Ownership:
Digg – View articles, videos, and photos that were submitted by readers like you. Vote them up or down. More popular stories rise to the front page. StumbleUpon shows you one “surprise” site at a time, while Digg lists pages of suggestions at a time. What the heck, they’re both good. My Digg Profile. Ownership:
YouTube – Maybe the second greatest time waster on the web. View, Rate, Comment, and Submit videos on anything. In this day and age I have to ask, “If it’s not on Youtube, did it really happen?” Anyway, here’s a link to my videos. Send me your favorite stuff. Ownership:
Flickr – My favorite photo sharing site. I love the features and interface. You can tag photos, add geolocation data, rate them, and a million other things. Plus, there are a bunch of sites that allow you to do cool things with your Flickr pictures. My Flickr Profile. Ownership:
I’m torn on these next two. They are Social Music Discovery sites. I use and love them both equally. Either way, you can’t lose.
Pandora – Get a constant stream of music that you like. Put in artists that you like and hear songs from them and similar artists. I constantly find new, great music on Pandora. My Pandora Profile. Ownership: Music Gnome Project
MySpace – Yuck, I wish my friends would get off this crap. But, since they are all there, I guess I begrudgingly have to be. My MySpace profile. Oh, by the way, MySpace is owned by Rupert “the Antichrist” Murdoc. One more reason to go elsewhere. Ownership: Rupert Murdoc’s hideously evil Newscorp
FaceBook – I like the clean looks and less buggy interface of Facebook. Unlike MySpace, it appears that some of the people at Facebook have actually learned to program. I also like a lot of the third party widgets that allow you to pull in outside information. My Facebook Profile. Ownership: Mostly Self Owned. Microsoft owns a few percent.
LinkedIn – I use LinkedIn for work related social networking. It is great if you’re looking for a new job or information about companies. My LInkedIn Profile. Ownership: Self Owned
Google Maps or Yahoo Maps – Find your way to anywhere. These two mapping services both work great, have a ton of cool features, and look beautiful. Never get lost again. Never use CrapQuest again either. Ownership: and
Google Calendar – Maintain and share your calendar online. Google calendar works very well. You can add events quickly and keep multiple calendars that can be toggled on and off. It will send email alerts to you so that you don’t miss anything. Ownership:
RememberTheMilk – This is an online task manager. It is quick and simple to use. Best of all, it integrates with Gmail and Google Calendar very well. It helps me keep on top of the things that I have to get done. Owner: Self Owned
Jott – Do you ever come up with good ideas when you are out and about? (Me neither.) But if you do, just call your Jott phone number and speak into the phone. It can send messages to your email, calendar, to-do lists, etc. This thing is so cool, I just love it. Plus when you get done sending your memo, and people ask who you are talking to, you just say, “My Secretary”. Ownership: Self Owned
Plaxo – Plaxo used to be a spam factory, but they have since cleaned up their act. If you have information in multiple places, (Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, Outlook, iCalendar, etc) Plaxo will keep it all in sync for you. Set up an account, enter your sync points, and let it get everything automatically organized. Very helpful. Ownership: Self Owned
So what do YOU use?
If you have a site or service that you love, suggest it in the Comments below or contact me via email.
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