Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Best Websites to Know" - KOMO's Northwest Afternoon

On KOMO-TV's Northwest Afternoon for 19 March 2008, I highlighted a few websites you may not have heard of. The sites featured, in no particular order, are after the video clip and also available on the NWA site here. (Instant Messaging) - You know the problem… you’ve got a few friends on one instant messaging client, some on others – brings them all together into a single website. Handy for those that might have trouble with the traditional IM clients downloaded to your computer, perhaps banned by your company or school’s network settings – makes it easy. Networks supported: MSN, AOL/ICQ, Yahoo, and GTalk/Jabber. Bonus points for registering: Ability to save chat logs, single sign-in, and customization. (Product Reviews) - Before you buy anything online, it’s good to get the good, bad and the ugly from those who have ventured through the checkout path before. Are the shoes true to size? Does that product really do what it’s designed to do? Did you have any problems? Consumer reviews are a powerful force. A leader in product ratings online is Power Reviews and their consumer site brings this data to potential buyers. The same folks that power sites from big players such as REI, Toys-R-Us and Brookstone – present the shopping site Features to look for: Narrow search results by various criteria, compare brands, upload customer images. Unique: Buzzillions users have, for the most part, actually bought the product they’re reviewing. (Online Music) - Pandora creates a radio station tailored to your tastes. By selecting songs and artists you like, the online service selects other music based on hundreds of criteria in the Music Genome Project. The service is free and doesn’t require you to load a player – it works right in your browser. The more songs you review the better it predicts what else you might like. Limitations: It’s not a music-on-demand service, so you can’t play a particular song or request only songs from one artist, given rights issues – only US customers can play, a bummer if you travel. Favorite feature: Thumbs-up, Thumbs-down ratings are super-simple. (Local Guide) - Looking to check out that new neighborhood restaurant? Want to try a new night club? Want to share your review with friends and get their feedback? Social Networking meets local community reviews with Yelps slick interface, intuitive navigation and the ability to add darn near everything in your ‘hood. Seattle’s a focus city, so you may not find the same level of detail if you’re visiting, say Peoria. (Electronics Bargains) – Shopping for a bargain? Don’t really care what the bargain is? Look to woot! Woot offers exactly one product (most days) and each customer can buy up to three of this item each day. When the item is gone, it’s gone… some products can sell out in hours or even minutes and are generally electronics or related gizmos. Sign up for various woot! notification services to have new products sent to you daily. Caveat: Return policy restrictive, shipping can be somewhat slow. (Handmade Marketplace) – The “ebay for handmade products” allows anyone to sell homemade products to others online. Unlike Ebay, which sells anything to anyone, Etsy focuses only on handmade products. One real benefit to this site, as opposed to buying from some of the larger mass-merchants, is that you can focus your search on those items made right in your area – perhaps you’re limiting your carbon footprint or just want to support local artists. Another neat feature – search by color. How clever is this? The site offers the ability to pick a color and it will find products that match that color. Wouldn’t you have loved to have this feature the last time you were decorating a room or in search of the “something blue” at a wedding.

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