Posts tagged 'Web'

Move Over Pandora, Hello Grooveshark

I’ve been a long time fan of Pandora, an automated music recommendation and Internet radio service. Users enter a song or artist that they like, and Pandora responds by playing similiar music. The recommendations come from the Music Genome Project, a complex mathematical algorithm to organize songs using more than 400 attributes. You can give a song a thumbs up or thumbs down to help tweak the station to your liking. Pandora has been my sole source of music while at work. Programs like PandoraBoy for the Mac and Open Pandora for Windows turn the web player into a standalone desktop app complete with keyboard shortcuts. Pandora offers it’s own standalone application with higher quality sound and no ads for $36 a year.

While the musical recommendations have been very good, my radio stations quickly become stale. The same songs keep coming up again and again and the only way to rectify it is to create a new station. You also can’t search out a song and play it on demand. You give Pandora a song or artist to use as a seed for generating similiar songs that make up your station.

Compare this with Grooveshark which provides the ability to listen to single songs from the 7-million song catalog on demand, save playlists, and embed both on other sites; all for free. The user interface borrows heavily from the iPhone with sliding menus and a minimalist design. The application is a cinch to use.

Grooveshark interface screenshot

Hovering over a song brings up four small icons: play, add to queue, more info, and embed. The more info menu brings up more options like browsing the artist or song, adding it to a playlist or your favorite list that you can recall later, and a list of similiar songs. After you get tired of looking up every song you can think of, make use of the autoplay feature which keeps the songs coming based on your listening history. You can also like/dislike songs which Grooveshark suggests to further tune your song list. You can see it in action below thanks to ben westermann-clark:

Grooveshark is reminiscent of the golden age of Napster where nearly every song was available at your fingertips only without downloading anything. What’s the legality of Grooveshark? I’m not really sure, but the company claims to have license agreements with a long list of record labels. It doesn’t really matter since you can use the site without signing up, which you only have to do if you want to save songs or playlists.

The only thing Grooveshark is missing is a desktop client with keyboard shortcuts though it sounds like that is coming sometime real soon. In the meantime I’ll just use Fluid or Mozilla Prism with a nice custom icon to complete the effect. It seems crazy to use any other online or offline music client now that I’ve gotten to know Grooveshark.

Seesmic Desktop Takes Twhirl To The Next Level

Screenshot of Seesmic Desktop Preview with columns.

Twhirl has been my favorite Twitter client until today when the Seesmic Desktop preview launched. Seesmic, who bought the Twhirl client a year ago, has taken the product to the next level. Taking a few hints from Tweetdeck, this update brings the ability to create groups for who you follow as well as display multiple columns to help cut through the stream of noise. The grouping feature is a nice addition but is a little bit clunky without a way to see all the people you are following in one place so you can easily sort people into groups. The only way to add someone is clicking an icon over their avatar. In addition to people you can also add columns for search terms. People with multiple Twitter accounts will be happy to know that you can manage different usernames from one interface with the option to view them combined or separate.

URL shortners include, (with their new DiggBar),,,, and You can also post pictures but the only service available is the dominant TwitPic.

Like any new release, there are a few things that can be improved. Customization features are sparse. Things missing are the ability to adjust font size and styling (important when you want to optimize scanability) as well as colors of the interface. The notification pop-up (my favorite part of Twhirl) no longer shows a preview of the incoming tweets but merely indicates what type of tweet has arrived (reply, direct message, or “friend update”) and for which account that tweet was sent to. I hope in future releases they add this functionality.

Seesmic Desktop Preview application in a single column mode.

For people who use Twitter as an information fire hose, the Seesmic Desktop client will be a handy tool for managing the information overload. I always liked Twhirl for it’s lightweight memory usage which really turned me off to the sluggish Tweetdeck. We’ll see how well this tool performs after a couple days of usage. And I’ll continue to follow the developments as Seesmic brings their video-conversation service into the mix with Twitter updates. Just imagine how cool that would be to view and respond to video comments Twitter style in a dedicated application like this!

DiggBar Brings Digg Features To Any Page

A screenshot of DiggBar in action.

Finally, a toolbar I might actually use. Digg unveiled their new toolbar/URL shortner today, though it’s not a toolbar in the traditional sense. Instead of downloading an add-on all you have to do is add to the front of the URL you’re currently viewing. How clever is that? The service will take you to a shortened URL, suitable for sharing on Twitter, as well as bringing all the goodness of Digg into a subtle, compact toolbar above the page. From there you can digg or submit a story, view comments from other diggers, bury the story, see related stories or peruse random stories that have already made the front page of Your Facebook and Twitter friends don’t have to be out of the loop since share buttons for the two services are also included. Check out the video below for a demo:

I really like this new feature which aims to take on Stumbleupon and tinyURL at the same time. To make it even easier to use I wrote a bookmarklet that you can use to add to the front of any URL with the click of a button. Just like a real toolbar! To use it drag the link below to your bookmark toolbar.
Update: Nevermind, you’re probably better off using the official DiggBar bookmarklet.

Digg Toolbar

Twouble In The Twitterverse

If you’ve heard of Twitter and haven’t seen this video I pity you.

Now go follow me.

Mozilla Needs Your Feedback For Their Redesign

What does an open-source company do when they need to re-design their site? Open up the decisions to their community. Mozilla has reached out to Happy Cog Studios, noted for their WordPress interface revamp, to give a makeover. Round 1 of the project is up at with three mock-ups ready for a critique from anyone who can fill in a comment form.

None of the designs really jump out at me. The 2nd concept tickles my fancy the most but the header is too big and lacks the focus on Mozilla’s projects which is what the Mozilla Foundation is all about. I guess what I like the most about concept2 is the colors. Concept3 seems a little too gimicky/amateur and concept1 is too bland.

Blue and orange grunge concept for redesign.

Open-source is all about sharing and listening to feedback. When it comes to a redesign, the more feedback you can get the better. I wish we could do a community-involved redesign at work. I wonder what people would come up with?

(via Daniel Mall)

Contextual Advertising Misses The Mark

Advertising that uses an algorithm to determine what is relevant to the content can have it’s interesting side-effects. Take these three screenshots I have collected over the past couple of months for example.

Who would want a dying cat ringtone?
Who would want a dying cat ringtone anyway? Plus how did Google know that Puck was lying down playing dead?

Note: The election happened on November 4th, 3 months earlier.
Note: The election happened on November 4th, nearly 3 months earlier.

Download Mozilla Firefox 2 even though Firefox 3 was released.
A post about the release of Firefox 3 seems like a good place to advertise Firefox 2.

An Evil Command Center On Demand

Have you ever needed a diabolical central command console like the bad guys always use in the movies? Then Henchman’s Helper will be a big help to you.

Henchmans Helper is a diabolical setup.

While it may look like something out of a sci-fi novel, this site is actually useful. All the images are from live web cams all over the world or animated weather maps which are brought in dynamically using JavaScript. It’s the perfect site to leave open on a second monitor so you can check in with unsuspecting victims at a glance. Now if only we had a direct line to the presidents office to demand a ransom of $100 billion dollars!

P.S. Nice touch with the laser knob.

Browser Wars Graphic

This is certainly the most creative way to show the battle of the browsers in the Internet space.

Browser War Graphic

I stumbled upon this on, my favorite source for random images that everyone is buzzing about. I have no idea where it came from but it is a little out of date with the lack of Google’s Chrome in the mix.

I Saw A Marriage Proposal On Twitter

grobertson proposes to film_girl via Twitter

Grant Robertson and Christina Warren are both Weblogsinc (now AOL) bloggers and new media junkies. So it shouldn’t be any surprise when the couple got engaged via Twitter today (her reaction). Now this is obviously something Grant had been planning and he just couldn’t wait for his precious Christina to return home to Atlanta from San Fransisco where she is covering the Macworld Expo. But come on dude! At least wait to do it in person and record it on video (like a certain someone). Just imagine the grand kids reaction when you tell them you popped the question on Twitter:

“Twitter? Only old farts used Twitter”

“You whippersnappers! It’s what we did back then!”

Here was my reaction after the news.

Now this isn’t the first Twitter proposal but by golly it sure is sweet to witness it first hand. Now let’s just hope the happy couple doesn’t hold the wedding in Second Life.

P.S. I’m sure alexalbrecht‘s tweaked stomach was just a coincidence.

Twitter Hackings Make Mainstream News

Screenshot of Twitter Hacking News on

It seems like just yesterday that Twitter was an unknown start-up with a quirky idea. Now Twitter is definitely mainstream. News of the recent account hackings made the headlines of Apparently someone hacked into internal support tools used by Twitter to help their users. The hacker then tweeted from 33 prominent accounts including foxnews, barackobama, britneyspears and even CNN’s own ricksanchezcnn.

Screenshots of the defaced accounts can be seen in this Flickr pool.

This is in addition to a Twitter phishing attempt that happened over the weekend. When your site becomes the target of nefarious attacks then you know you have reached the big time.