The Radar

Helping You Zero in on New and Exciting Technologies

Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

Sep-24-2012

College Classes for the Masses

Welcome to the future of education?

With Coursera, you can take college-level courses from the comfort of home for free.

Coursera is a consortium of universities that offer MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. MOOCs are typically free and boast extremely high enrollment; a single class can have 100,000 students enrolled. Coursera originated with two Stanford professors and has since evolved into a collaboration of universities from across the world. Currently, Coursera has 195 class offerings and their catalog continues to expand. 33 universities are registered with more expected to hop onboard in the future.

Course offerings vary widely across fields; here’s a small sample of classes Coursera offers:

 

Introduction to Finance

Planet Earth

Calculus: Single Variable

Synapses, Neurons, and Brains

Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets

Introduction to Guitar

A History of the World Since 1300

Introduction to Sustainability

Creative, Serious, and Playful Science of Android Apps

 

To see a full listing of courses, click here. Each class consists of video lectures, course assignments, and quizzes. There are also discussion forums where you can interact with other students. Classes run anywhere from 3 to 14 weeks. At the successful completion of the class, most universities will provide you with a signed certificate of completion.

If you are interested in even more MOOCs, take a look at edX and Udacity.

 

Posted under Classes, Education, Technology, Websites
May-30-2012

Spotify for Music!

Spotify is a cool new way to listen to millions of tracks of music on your P.C., Mac, or handheld device. You can join for free and put up with a little bit of advertising or pay 6.99/month to listen ad-free.

Facebook and Spotify have teamed up to make sharing music tracks with your freinds easy and fun. In fact one of the suggested ways to log into Spotify is through your Facebook account.

Spotify features include a library where you keep a record of all of your playlists and tracks as well as biographies of all the top artists taken from the excellent All Music Guide.

If you would like to learn more about this great service just log onto www.spotify.com

 

 

Posted under Technology, Websites
Apr-29-2012

Floss Teeth, Get 3 Points

Yes, really. With the clever incentive site, DailyFeats, you can take steps toward becoming a healthier, happier, better you. By shifting your goal focus to small, everyday “feats”,  DailyFeats can help you to achieve your larger goals.

What is a feat?

A feat is a small, positive step that you take toward your ultimate goal. DailyFeats has a collection of feats for a variety of goal topics (Health Goal, Money Goal, Community Goal, Learning Goal, etc.). Let’s say one of your goals it to improve your health. Some sample feat choices for this goal include: Eat Organic, Take the Stairs, Running, Antioxidants, and Healthy Fats. Every time you complete one of these feats (i.e. Eat Organic, Take the Stairs), you can click the “Did It” link on DailyFeats and earn points. Feats that are more difficult or meaningful generally net more points than simpler feats.

Points

Once you’ve earned some points, you can redeem them for coupons at online retailers. After you have accumulated a larger amount of points, you can use them to purchase gift cards to a variety of stores. You can also convert your points into a monetary donation to a charity.

Why is this site unique?

The thinking behind this kind of approach toward goal achievement is that small, repetitive steps can lead to lasting behavior change. And, by partitioning a goal into smaller manageable chunks, it can appear less daunting. You can read more about the DailyFeats philosophy here.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical of this approach. Am I really going to be more likely to eat a meat-free meal or do the dishes right now because I’m getting points for it? I thought no, but so far, I’ve been pretty psyched to complete feats and claim my points.

Try the site out and let me know if you feel the same.

Posted under Technology, Websites
Apr-28-2012

Kickstarter

 

Kickstarter is an amazing website that crowd funds creative projects. Projects come from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, publishing and more. 

The way that crowd funding works is that an interested person decides to financially support an idea and pledges a certain amount of money towards it. The project creator doesn’t get paid unless the entire deal is funded within a certain amount of time.

As of April 2009 20,000 projects have been successfully funded! To learn more about this popular website go to http://www.kickstarter.com

 

 

 

 

Posted under Technology, Websites
Mar-21-2012

PrintFriendly to the Rescue

We’ve all been there. You’ve found the article you want on a website, click print, and out come eight almost completely blank pages, sprinkled with occasional ads and formatting remnants.

The next time, older but wiser, you click Print Preview in your browser before you print. The preview displays eight almost completely blank pages, sprinkled with occasional ads and formatting remnants. Sigh.

The third time around, you’re searching for a printer-friendly button on a website, so that the content of the page will print out free of ads, navigation frames, or microscopic text. But unfortunately, there is no printer-friendly button on that page.

So you click print, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. And other than the time and date stamped at the bottom, it’s blank. You could vent your frustration in a destructive manner (please don’t hurt the computers, they mean well) or you could head on over to PrintFriendly.

This site isn’t just nifty, it’s nifty cubed. Here’s why:

1) It’s simple. All you have to do is copy the URL of the page you’re on, paste it into the URL field on PrintFriendly, and hit Print Preview. A print friendly version of the page will be generated. You can hit Print straightaway or tweak the page to remove images/extraneous text and adjust the text size—smaller text to save paper, larger text for easier readability.

2) This site doubles as a quick and easy way to create PDFs from web content. Instead of Print, click PDF and PrintFriendly will create a PDF version of the page, which you can download.

3) PrintFriendly is also a handy tool for reading articles. Some sites are extremely ad-heavy, with still ads, text ads, and animated ads, all vying for your attention. Not to mention those evil ads that plop down right on top of what you’re reading. All these pesky elements can be distracting and can slow the load time of the page. Instead of using PrintFriendly as a printing tool, you can use it to filter out this unwanted clutter so you can read in peace.

While not foolproof for every website out there, PrintFriendly was able to create printer friendly versions of most of the sites I tested. Use PrintFriendly when you want to save paper, money, time, and your sanity.

Posted under Technology, Websites
Feb-28-2012

Navigating the Plastic Jungle

According to this recent Wall Street Journal article, between 2005 and 2011, $41 billion in gift cards went unspent. Wow, can you say wasteful? Yet, most of us have been the recipient of a gift card that is not exactly compatible with our interests. What happens to those neglected gift cards and what can you do?

Usually, if the card remains unspent after a reasonable amount of time has passed, the money goes directly to the gift card issuer. In other words, the person who bought you the gift card has just made a lovely donation to a for-profit corporation (definitely not tax-deductible). In other cases, the money goes to the state, where it sits in an unclaimed-funds account, where the money is rarely claimed and eventually becomes state funds. Neither of these outcomes is what Aunt Bertha had in mind when she bought that gift card for you.

Enter gift card exchange sites, such as Plastic Jungle, where you can redeem those unwanted gift cards for money.  Plastic Jungle will give you an offer for your gift card, up to 92% of its face value. On a $25 card, that would be $23. You can then print out a free prepaid mailer and send your gift card in. You can choose to be paid via cashiers check, Paypal, or an Amazon gift card. Or, you can turn your offer into a donation to a favorite charity.

Plastic Jungle accepts gift cards from more than 400 different retailers and counting. In addition to selling your unwanted gift cards, you can also buy gift cards for up to 35% off their face value.

Now, if they would only stop making gift cards out of plastic, I’d be happy.

Posted under Technology, Websites
Feb-26-2012

Internet Security and You

 

Part 3: HTTP Versus HTTPS

When doing online banking or making online purchases or payments, one quick way to check whether you’re on a secure website connection, is to look at the web address in the top browser window.  Does the URL start with http (hypertext transfer protocol), or https?  Https (hypertext transfer protocol secure) adds an additional level of security, beyond http, with SSL (secure sockets layer).

Https provides this extra encryption layer to create a secure channel for your communication, even if your side is insecure.  This prevents eavesdropping by third parties.  While not infallible, https is used by banks and credit card payment websites.  Always check for https before entering sensitive information into a website.

For more information check out these short articles:
BizTech: HTTP vs. HTTPS
WiseGEEK: What is the Difference Between http and https?
Digital Purview: HTTP vs. HTTPS

Posted under Digital Media Lab, Technology, Websites
Feb-13-2012

Picture This!

 

 

Social media that is both useful and inspiring.

This nifty new(ish) site allows its members to “pin” images from the internet into specific pin boards that they have created, which can be for either an artistic muse or a repository of items one wishes to remember.

However, there is one unusual thing about getting on board with Pinterest. It requires one be invited. You have the option of either requesting an invite or having a current member offer you an invitation, and once you are in the site gives you pre-named pin boards that can be renamed as you choose. You then can place the “Pin it” link on you bookmark bar and every time you are at a site that has image(s) you want on your pin boards you click the “Pin it” link and it highlights the available images (along with the size), you click the image you want and a screen comes up where you can select which pin board you want to place the image and add any comment you wish.

Pinterest also gives its members the chance to make connections with other members by following either selected pin boards or a member’s entire inventory of pin boards. You can also re-pin images from another members pin board and leave comments.

Posted under Technology, Websites
Jan-25-2012

Internet Security and You

Part 2: Email Account Security

At some point you may have wondered, which free email accounts provide the best online security?

If the most popular free email providers want to stay in business, they need to offer strong security to keep your email private and safe. This includes spam filtering, virus cleaning, and phishing protection, as well as a request to you, the customer, to create a strong password and security question.

The latest versions of Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail (Windows Live), and FastMail are rated very high for security; to see independent website ratings (and other info) for free Email providers, check out these links:

- Free email providers rated
- Check your email security now
- Super secure free email providers

Posted under Digital Media Lab, Technology, Websites
Dec-31-2011

Google Easter Eggs

In the world of technology, an easter egg is a hidden feature or inside joke in a webpage, video game, or computer program. In the world of Google, easter eggs are everywhere.

Note: You will need to turn off Google Instant to view some of these. Once you’re at google.com, click the gear icon in the top right corner and select Search Settings. Under Google Instant Predictions, click the box to the right of ON, to turn off Google Instant. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save.

 

1) Gravity

Go to www.google.com, type in Gravity and click on I’m Feeling Lucky. Continue to search for things as usual.

 

2) Barrel Roll

In the search field, type Do a Barrel Roll and hit enter.

 

3) Snow

Type Let it Snow into the search box and hit enter. If you wait until enough snow accumulates you can click and drag your mouse like an ice scraper to clear the screen. Or, you can take the easy way out and click on the Defrost button.

 

4) Daily Affirmation

Type Who’s the cutest person in the world? into the search box and click I’m Feeling Lucky.

 

If you want to see more, the following site details some of the better-known Google easter eggs.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/6201814/Google-easter-eggs-15-best-hidden-jokes.html

Posted under Technology, Websites