Ask Auntie Webwrangler

One topic that came up at yesterday’s Hoyden grogblogmeet was that for lots of people the Internet has become so confusing that they get flummoxed trying to find sites that they’re most interested in, and also that there’s so much around that they find it hard to keep track of things they’ve found before, or to organise their online life generally.

So I thought that here was a chance for Hoydenistas to share their favourite first-stop sites and online communities, and tips for managing bookmarks and snippets that you want to save from the internet, and tools that make managing sharing digital information easier with other people. In Net jargon, these sorts of things have been called “lifehacks” for a while now, meaning that they are tech-fixes that make life simpler.

For instance, in comedy there’s a lot of images sent around (headshots/posters), and heaps of people have no idea how to resize them to a slick postcard size, and they end up sending huge files on, hogging bandwidth and sometimes getting bounced because their emails take too long to download. One very simple solution? Download Picasa from Google – it has heaps of useful image indexing and editing features, but it also has a feature where you can send one image or a folder of images to someone in email, and Picasa will automatically resize the images to postcard size (or whatever size you configure as the maximum size) in the email. You have to have a GMail account for this to work, but you can always just have a GMail account for resizing pictures – send them to your primary email account and then you can forward them to whoever you need to while using a professional-looking email address.

There’s also a lot of browser extensions, especially for Firefox, that allow lots of useful shortcuts for getting stuff done online.

So, two areas:

1. What are your first stop websites/communities?
2. What lifehacks do you already use and love? What would you like to be able to find a lifehack for?

Let’s brainstorm.

Categories: technology

21 replies

  1. I currently have 26 blogs that I read regularly/daily. Instead of having a reader, I have a “Blogs” folder sitting on my bookmarks toolbar in Firefox. Handily, When I click on the Blogs folder, Firefox has an “Open All in Tabs” button right at the bottom. I hit that and then go grab a drink while Firefox chugs along opening all 26 in individual tabs, then have plenty of reading material loaded up without needing to do anything else!
    That’s right after opening Gmail and checking Livejournal, though.

  2. I check my mail accounts, Twitter accounts, and LiveJournal. I daresay my handy discovery has been Google Reader. It has its limitations, but I love it so, particularly for the fact that you can star and easily mark as unread, and also email within the page itself without effort if you use Gmail.
    I use two browsers to stay logged in to two Gmail accounts at once. And since I’m logged in permanently as my Real Self on TwitterFox, I’m miffed that there’s not anything good for Safari that I can use for benetwits. I’d keep up a lot better if I didn’t have to think about it…

  3. Heh, I check stilllifewithcat to see who has updated their blog recently. Not quite so technologically advanced, but good for lazy people like me.

  4. I only got around to setting up a feedreader a month or so ago (google). I love it. There’s a more-or-less one-to-one relationship between my blogroll and my feedreader, approximately.
    I really, really like the femmostroppo roundup posts that have been appearing here lately. Great for finding interesting stuff to read, and for making sure that I read beyond my own interests.
    Don’t twitter, don’t lj, have facebook but don’t really attend to it. Must get around to setting up flickr.
    Deborah’s last blog post..Don’t panic

  5. I would be utterly lost without I have no idea how I managed before it appeared on the scene.
    This site is a lifesaver … it gives you workarounds for various companies’ automated voice systems.
    Down for Everyone? is very useful – it checks whether a URL is, well, down for everyone or just for you.

  6. Forgot to say, first-stop website… Hoyden about Town, of course!
    Deborah’s last blog post..Don’t panic

  7. I use Bloglines for feeds and am also loving the roundup posts that are taking me to new places. I’ve found most of my favourite blogs via other blogs.
    I find IGoogle and it’s assorted widgets really useful – for example, the weather forecast is great and has replaced my former method of gauging the temperature (wave hand out of window of first-floor apartment and hope for the best). I also find the converters and ABC top news roundup devices useful.
    I’m slowly getting into flickr and have (finally last week) joined facebook. Yes, I WILL get with teh ‘web 2′ thingy and explore its possibilities, probably just in time for ‘web 3′.

  8. D’Oh. What’s a lifehack? You wouldn’t think I used computers almost all day every day of the week….

  9. @ Blogaddict:
    Well, as I said in the post, it’s any tech-solution which makes regular tasks easier.
    There’s even a blog called Lifehacker, and several other blogs which emphasis lifehack discussions as one of their major topics.

  10. I want to second delicious as a great tool. I actually subscribe to some people’s updates so I don’t even have to think -I can just check when they’ve tagged something with the tag I’m following. (Don’t follow my tags – half of them right now are “return2″, which means I never finished reading them. Oh, the places on the net I’ll go next month!)
    I like Metafandom on LJ, for discussions of fandom and fandom-related topics, and I’m looking forward to IBARW’s newsletter starting up. IBARW = International Blog Against Racism Week.

  11. My biggest handy hack? I installed the RSS ticker in Firefox. This means blogs I like which have an RSS feed are dumped into a little folder within my general “In the Blogosphere” folder of bookmarks in Firefox, and from there I can pick the articles I’m interested in reading off the ticker (guess where HAT sits!). It’s a handy little widget for me, since it means I don’t have to worry too much about keeping up to date with a whole heap of blogs by jumping from link to link.
    The other thing I found really helpful was Google Notebook, although they’ve stopped development on that (which means I really should move all my various bookmarks out of there into something like (although I have pages of bookmarks there, mostly unsorted, and a few thousand more I should be adding to the list). To be honest, I’ve yet to find a bookmarking tool which really does what I want (single-click bookmarking, with minimal fuss and bother about tagging things).

  12. Meg, there’s a widget for delicious that I think will do what you want. Firefox supports it. Basically, you hit the button for add to delicious, and you can tag or not tag or whatever right there, then it saves. Really low drama.

  13. I’m mostly an LJ addict, and recently started expanding to other blogs, but I’m sporadic, and it turnsout you can just rss feed things onte your lj. I mean, I knew that, ut I hadn’t really messed with it. Now Ijust need some easy way to add the rss from every blog that catches my eye to y lj. As it is, I have firefox set up to follow rss’s.

  14. I use NetNewsWire, and can’t imagine trying to follow/search/filter/organise/archive all my feeds via a browser or friendspage.

  15. Foxmarks is really useful – I have hundreds and hundreds of bookmarks and four computers in the house, and with Foxmarks I can access them on any desktop I log into. I used to use but this is easier.

  16. Son has found heaps of interesting free stuff on the net – Games like Linerider etcetera. I keep meaning to get him to do a Things to Do in the Holidays 4Kidz guest post.

  17. Mindy, I thought I was the only one who visited Pav to see who has posted.
    Are there any ideas for people who have dial-up?
    It has just taken me 4 hours to download a anti-virus update and I found that blogger-followers slowed the computer down so much I had to delete it.

  18. Google reader was a revelation when I finally got around to employing it. Now that I can use it on iPhone (phone bought in less than 5 mins yesterday – gotta love that!), I can use short snippets of waiting time to keep up wherever I am. Nice. Possibly until I see my downloads, but we’ll see.
    That “Notify me of followup comments” tickabox is pretty cool too.
    Flickr means I no longer dread hard disk crashes (used as storage more than communication).
    Shared Google calendars. I have something like 12 of them – one for each member of the family, one for school (which I publish on the school blog), SE Asian public holidays, phases of the moon – you name it.
    And toast tongs. They are wooden and help you get toast out of a toaster without burning your fingers or getting electrocuted. Granted, not so techy, but absolutely life changing. 🙂

  19. Just wanted to say a big hearty THANK YOU. I have no idea how to do the postcard sized photo thing you’re talking about, but I did just use the program to get rid of red eye and take the extreme shine off my face that appears in virtually every photo I’ve ever taken, which I’ve never been able to do on my own before. All we had previously was Gimp, and then I had to whine at the husband to do it for me — and it would take him like three times as long to do it than it just took me to do this one myself 🙂

  20. Cara, excellent news! Yes, it’s very handy for basic touch-ups like that.
    Picasa has default settings to resize any of your images to a postcard-ish size when you email them from your gmail account – just send a couple as a test from one account to another and see how you go. If you want to change the size then you can go in and tweak the settings later.

  21. PS in case not totally clear, “email this picture” and “email this folder” are options WITHIN PICASA. Just go through the options menu both there on the page or in the right-click drop-down to find it.

%d bloggers like this: