PC World 101 Freebies edition 2007

I only discovered this annual posting of 101 free software applications by PC World just last year myself and I loved it. I even went as far as blinking it on the web service Blinklist. This year they have lots of winners that are definitely noteworthy. Overall, this list of software is recommended to anyone who uses a computer. Plus, all this software is free! What’s better than that? “101 Fantastic Freebies” Courtesy of PC World.

Social Bookmarking: Blinklist Is My Choice

I just signed up for del.icio.us web service less than 15 minutes ago and I’m already going to cancel my account. Why? Because I miss the thumbnails of websites that Blinklist shows next to the majority of my bookmarks. Will I give del.icio.us another shot in the future? If and only if they implement thumbnails of the sites that I bookmark. Feature rich content will always win me over. The Blinklist web service has this. Del.icio.us is missing it.

Unlimited Storage Says Yahoo!

New tidbit of information found over at Techcrunch…..To celebrate the approaching 10th anniversary of Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! is planning to offer unlimited storage to it’s users starting in May. When I say it’s users I mean all of it’s users! No strings attached (so far). Be sure not to violate any terms when this happens (such as using your account as a storage service). The current capacity right now is 1GB (less than GMail). This will be an interesting show. I’m anxious to see how Google is going to respond to this. I’m not sure if they’ll offer unlimited storage themselves, but maybe they’ll speed the storage counter up! Lord knows they need to. This probably won’t be enough for me to switch elsewhere though. I love me some GMail! I’m only using 14MB’s over on GMail, and yes, I delete mail (gasp!).

More Music Sites and Service Reviews

imeem – I use this music service to listen to songs that are recommended to me from other people or that I’ve noticed are really getting some serious attention. imeem is a site for users to create playlists and upload music, videos, photo’s, create/join groups and blog. This is a very popular social networking site with over a thousand users and playlists. It’s also pretty fast with loading songs (if you’re on a fast connection). With thousands of songs uploaded, this is the perfect place to go to simply listen to songs that you want to hear on the spot. You can also listen to playlists that users have created, view videos, and read blogs. It features a nice interface, albeit it become very cluttered for some profiles. Adding music to your playlist is as simple as finding the song and clicking “add to your playlist” a la Youtube style.

finetune – I have not registered for this site (yet) I’ve finally registered! The focus of this site is allowing you to create an unlimited amount of playlists (with some restrictions that we’ll get to later). The interface for this service is one that I happen to love (I’m a sucker for eye candy and Web 2.0 style sites). On the homepage of this site, you can type in any artist and it will automatically create a playlist featuring “music by your artist and related artists.” This is actually a radio station for that artist. There is a limit on the number of songs that can be skipped but, I’ve yet to find out what that number is and the time limit on it. I have one open right now for Evanescence (a great music group btw). I’ve been playing this radio station for about 30 minutes or so. So far, there has been one song that I’ve liked enough to write down so that I can download it later. The music that has been played so far is definitely on point with the style of Evanescence. I’m just a picky consumer. You can create an unlimited number of playlists, however the playlist can only contain up to 3 songs per artist. Adding songs to a playlist is a simple as finding the song and clicking a button next to the song. Your lists of playlist will popup and from there you can choose which playlist to add it to. You can also explore other member’s playlists. If you can’t finish your playlist or would like suggestions to finish it, there is a button called ‘I’m lazy’ and basically finetunes will finish your playlist for you. Consequently, if you don’t like what they’ve added, just push the button again and their suggestions will be replaced with another set of suggestions. Pretty damn neat! You can also implement your playlists into your Myspace page or your blog and enable or disable autoplay. However, your playlist must have at least 45 tracks in order for it to work properly. finetunes also makes a nice use for tags:

want to listen to Jazz or Reggae? we all organize our music in our own ways … tagging an artist with some keywords lets you quickly find that artist again. never heard “roots rock” or “goa trance”? you can bet that the community has tagged some artists and that makes music discovery easy.

Clicking on any of the tags takes you to a page that lists artists, albums and playlists that use the tag you selected. You can also listen to that tag’s radio station! A future feature that will be implemented is the use of wiki’s for artists. There is also a desktop application for this service based on the new Apollo platform. It also has a very nice design that is similar to the finetune website. I will probably download this application and share my experience with you at a later date. I would definitely recommend it to playlist addicts out there or for those who also like Pandora. Check my profile out @ http://www.finetune.com/user/Corvida

iLike – For all you iTune and iPod users out there. This service just might be useful to you.

What is iLike? iLike is a service to help you organize your music, share your music tastes, and discover new music through your friends. iLike provides a buddy-list for your iPod – it helps you discover new artists based on what you’re already listening to, and it helps you browse your friends’ music libraries and share music suggestions with each other.

If you’ve got a lot of music in your iPod and you don’t have the time to organize it into playlists, then download the iLike Sidebar for iTunes and we’ll do it automatically. If you’ve got friends who keep asking “what’s that song you played on your iPod? I’d love to come by and get some of those songs”, you can now simply invite them to use iLike and they can browse your music library automatically. And if you’re one of those people who doesn’t have enough new music, well, iLike can help you discover new artists through our automatic recommendations, or by browsing the libraries of your friends or even strangers that have similar music tastes.

To really get the most out of iLike, you need to install the iLike Sidebar for iTunes. This Sidebar will help you discover new music directly within iTunes. It also sends your music-listening habits to our servers, and we automatically create a music profile page for you. If you register to create an account and invite friends, they can then browse your profile page to sample your favorite songs. If all your friends use iLike, you can quickly find out all the hot songs that your friends are listening to that you should check out yourself.

How do we do the recommendations? Just as Google uses complex algorithms to scour, ingest, and analyze links and relationships between web pages, in order to deliver you an ordered list of search results, iLike scans various data sources (including the music libraries and listening habits of iLike users) and analyzes links between artists and songs to deliver you an ordered list of music recommendations for any given artist. As more people download and install iLike, these recommendations automatically improve, so tell your friends to use iLike!

Do indeed tell your friends about this service! Make sure you are using IE, Firefox, or Safari, and iTunes 6.0 or later, otherwise, you may encounter problems. Overall, it sounds like a neat service.

Unfortunately, my iPod is no longer in use and I extremely dislike iTunes. For those like me, iLike has the perfect solution for finding free mp3’s and discovering new artists. iLike/artist is a page that displays 4 things: fast-moving songs, fast-moving artists, fast-moving Garageband songs, and fast-moving garageband artists. Clicking on a song will play a sample of it and if any of the songs are free, there are links to download the free mp3. However, samples for some songs will definitely leave you wanting to more, especially in the Garageband section. Clicking on the artists will take you to their page where you can view their most played songs, similar artists (of course), people who like them, top listeners of that artist, and discography, with tabs that have more in depth information on all of the above. How do they calculate these fast-moving songs and artists?

…we instead look for songs whose popularity has grown with the most users this week compared to last week. (we can calculate with similar metrics by month or other time period, but for now we’re focusing on weekly charts).

There are two other tabs on this page where (if you’ve signed up for the service) you can find out who’s popular among your friends, and also emerging genre’s (no registration required to see this tab). The service has a very nice interface on all pages (del.icio.us style). I can see this beta service going pretty far with all the iTune users out there. So far, I’ve discovered two songs that I like: Cupids Chokehold by Gym Class Heroes (from the fast-moving songs section) and Lost In Your Eyes by Eric Nicholas (free mp3 from the fast-moving Garageband songs section).
Well, that’s all for today folks. I hope you enjoyed this post and hope to hear some comments soon if you happen to try any of the services. Recommendations of other services are more than welcome.

Slacker Music Service Review

Next up is a music service known as Slacker.Unlike the interface of Pandora, Slacker’s interface is all eye candy. It reminds me of the interface of the music service Rhadsody. You have a list of top stations, a folder containing all stations, and another folder for custom stations. If you are listening to the station of a particular artist, you will see a brief profile of that artist and related artists. Slacker, focuses less on finding similar music for you, and more on playing random songs of a particular genre or by a artist. I’ve yet to find any new music from this service. You can mark songs as favorites or ban songs from stations and send to a friend. Though, what it sends I’m not sure of. This as far as this service goes.The service is not nearly as fast as Pandora and sometimes freezes my browser. There is no social networking (as far as I know), and there is a limit on the number of songs that can be skipped within an hour (6 skips are allowed).If you are interested in hearing the radio on the internet and not intentionally being introduced to new artists or songs, Slacker is the way to go. I’d use this service for a party. It usually plays the latest and/or greatest/hottest songs. Nothing more, nothing less. This service is still in beta and definitely has a few kinks to work out. I’ve experienced songs restarting for no apparent reason (my guess is because of caching), and weird sound effects happening in the middle of songs that were playing perfectly fine before. It’s not ready for prime time yet and it’s not nearly as good as Pandora, but I’d only recommend it for light listening right now. If you use Pandora. Stick with it.