Tag: website

More Valuable Websites I Use

I'm not an overly big fan of the social networking and/or 2.0 websites, but I do use a few of them.  The big ones (Facebook, Last.fm, Delicious, Flickr, and Twitter) have already been rehashed in great detail, but there's a couple others that really do what I need them to do, and are worth a mention here – namely, Goodreads and RunningAHEAD.


Goodreads is my favorite book-related website.  In essence, it's a way to catalog and organize books.  You can use it any number of ways – as a way to log what books you read, categorize books in your library using "bookshelves" (essentially tags, so you can put one book on multiple "bookshelves"), review & rate books, and then add friends so you can view all of this information on other like-minded people's accounts.  I find it a great way to keep track of what I'm reading, how many books I'm reading a year, whether I already have a book in my library and whether I've read it, whether I'm borrowing/lending a book from/to someone else, and even my wish-list of books (hint: make a bookshelf called "wish-list" and then you can direct people to the books on it directly). 

In addition, everything is hyperlinked, so clicking on the author of a book will bring up a list of his/her works, clicking on the title of a book will show links to pages where you can read reviews and/or purchase the book, cover art is imported automatically, and you can subscribe to a feed and/or summary email of someone's activity, if you want to see what they've read/rated lately.

Goodreads is completely free, with no limit on the number of books you may have in your library.  They even have easy ways to import books from a spreadsheet or from ISBN numbers, if you already have them in some other format.  If you join or are already a member, be sure to add me as a friend – I love to see what other people are reading and how they rate the books they've read.  My profile is here, and it's easy to sign up and start keeping track of your own books!


Recently, I've gotten back into running regularly for exercise, and as part of my efforts, I find it interesting and motivational to log my running activity.  Prior to signing up with RunningAHEAD, I used to keep all my runs in a spreadsheet on my computer.  The biggest issue with this was I never seemed to have a copy of the spreadsheet on the computer I was near after finishing my run.  Now I have a single, centralized location where I can enter my workout information, track my running shoes and the mileage I've put on them, and even map routes and add extra information about my run.  The website also has some decent graphing and trending tools to allow you to visualize any of the data variables you choose to record regularly.  The site even has capabilities to join or start a training group – all members that join are listed together under the group heading, and you can then chat in a separate group forum, share running reports, etc.  Overall, a very nice little site that does what it should do, and is free to boot.

If you want to see my RunningAHEAD info, my info is here.   Be aware I only update on a weekly/biweekly basis with all of the runs I did that week, once I download them from my Forerunner, so it may not show the most recent run status for me.

[NaBloPoMo 2008 – #29/30]

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I Love When It Just Works…

So this summer's "I've taken on too much" project was to set up and maintain a website for my neighborhood's Homeowners Association.  

Our HOA is relatively new (we just elected board members for the first time, earlier this year), and our only web-presence was a really pitiful little link on the property management company's website.  A Google search for the neighborhood only brought up a couple of hits on forums of people asking information about the community, with less-than-coherent responses from other forum members.  I decided that if *I* was moving to the area, I'd want to have a better idea of what was going on in the community and be able to know, in advance, what I was moving into.  So I *urg* volunteered to take on the IT Committee lead role and set up a website.

I wanted something that would be pretty easy to maintain in the long run, so I ended up going with a WordPress based blog for a content management system, hosted on BlueHost (who I also have a personal account with).  Once I found a nice-looking template, I started to cobble things together and ended up with a pretty nice looking product.  I added some other services on here or there and in the course of the past two months, spending probably about 40 hours total of my free time, put together a decent community website with the following:

I've got to give an introductory talk about everything at the annual HOA meeting coming up this Wednesday.  I've still got a few more things I'd like to play around with before everything is *exactly* the way I'd like it, but I'm very happy with the product so far.  Sometimes, when you get things to work just as they should, it's like the clouds part, the sun shines down, and the angelic choir begins to sing (but only in your head).  Now only if I can keep things running this smoothly in the upcoming months, I'll be incredibly happy.

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It Sounded Like a Good Idea…. Episode 2

Here's an idea I had a while back for a new web startup – since I know I'll never get around to implementing it, I'm offering it up for grabs to anyone who wants a chance at fame and fortune.  After all, I'd rather a site like this actually exist than just sit percolating in my head.


Site name: What the Hell (or Heck) Is That?


Premise: Have you ever seen something, but not known exactly what it was?  Maybe you're curious what that big humming box is behind your office building (it's a transformer) or what kind of bird it is that keeps dive-bombing your car (it's a redheaded woodpecker).  Well, thanks to the magic of the internet, now you can find out exactly What the Hell is That?


How It Works:

  • Any registered user can upload a picture to the website.  Ideal for cameraphone pictures, as you can moblog while on the run.  However, you can also email or use a in-page widget at your computer, if you prefer.
  • The photos get loaded onto a "Can You Identify This?" page that is constantly updated.  Registered users can take a stab at identifying the object of interest in the photo, filling out a small web form that has categories like:
    • Object Name
    • Intended Use
    • Difficulty in Identifying Object (Very Difficult – Difficult – Moderate – Easy – Very Easy, etc)
  • Once a user has entered information identifying an object, the photo goes into a Voting queue, where registered users can vote on the accuracy of the identifying information.  This could be as simple as a thumbs up/down for usefulness of identifying information down to a rated scale for how accurate the user was.
  • When enough users have voted positively for an identification, you get a notification via the medium you used to submit the photo with the results.  You can also check the individual item's page on the site in the meantime, if you want to see the status as it updates.  New identifications can be turned off at any time, and will automatically be shut off at a predetermined time period (assuming there is already a valid identification in place).


How The Site Makes Money:

  • Like many sites out there, I think this would probably work best on an ad revenue basis.  Make it free for users to register/upload/identify/vote, so you get a big base of people involved, and then make money off the advertisements served.
  • How do you get people interested in identifying/voting? 
    • Besides the fact that I think there'd be a lot of people interested if you just turned it into a game of some sort, with rankings/scores, you could also institute some sort of profit-sharing mechanism.  For each picture that someone identifies "correctly" that gets a certain number of corroborating votes from distinct users, they get some small fraction of a cent.  More difficult pictures yield a bigger profit for identifiers.  (Restrictions would have to be put in place to prevent botting, but I'm sure these could get figured out.)
    • You could also have site-sponsored contests – prizes for people that identify a certain number of items, or identify long-outstanding unidentified items, or items that the site administrators decide to post at random intervals.


So, what do you think?  Does this sound viable?  Anyone want to take it on?  I figure there's some new college grad out there burning to get moving on a big project like this – I've provided the outline for the service, now all you have to do is go implement it :-)  After all, the next time someone asks me "What the hell is that?", I'd rather not have to say "I don't know" when instead, I could leverage the power of the internet to help me get my answer.


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