Thursday, May 26, 2011

with a little help from my friends

Kids, Tex and I have been doing you a great disservice all these years (actually I'm gonna go ahead and call it an irresponsibility, because I'd like to think that the service we provide is outstanding, if a little erratic) we've been writing a blog about fantastic websites for over four years and have never once included any run by our friends. Well that changes now, as we introduce you to some of our favorite blogs run by some of our favorite people.

You may recognize Two Dilettantes from their link in our sidebar, but if you've never given them a look before today you should.

Two Dilettantes is really almost a digital lookbook for our two painfully stylish friends, Ashley and Patrice; it catalogs trends, offers runway rundowns, and includes a healthy dose of two very real girls wearing very cool clothes. Don't just take our word for it though, check out their interview with The Baltimore Sun which (correctly) refers to them as 'a collective [fashion] force to be reckoned with.'

Next is our highly talented and industrious friend Gant, who puts TCKiT's sporadic updates to shame with not only his blog, but also his webcomic, portfolio, and etsy store. Jerk.

Gantpants the blog is a window into the mind of an illustrator. Updated with enviable consistency it plays host to both Gant's own work and the things that inspire him. The end result bears a striking resemblance to its curator: delightfully quirky, occasionally dark, but always interesting and beautiful. If you want to see more of Gant's work be sure to check out his webcomic, Gaylife, or his online portfolio. Never fear, there's a gift shop, this is America after all.

Our last, though certainly not least, brilliant friend to be featured in today's post is Sarah, who is something of an inspiration.

Sarah's blog, Life Lived Healthfully, is both a chronicle of her own journey towards a healthy lifestyle, and a great guide for her readers on how to improve their own quality of life. If you're in need of healthy recipes, playlists to run by, workout suggestions, or just general motivation trust me when I say that Sarah's got you covered, and then some. Life Lived Healthfully is encouraging but never preachy; which is probably because unlike so many other bloggers out there who write about losing weight and keeping it off, coughGwenythPaltrowcough, Sarah's own life has taught her that living healthy is far more important than just being skinny.

Aren't friends just the best thing to have?

Monday, May 23, 2011

could well be in

One of the brilliant things about having a brother in computer science is knowing someone who can hook you up with little known sites and services, as well as a Google Voice number, before they come out of beta. (Another nice thing is 24/7 tech support - love you!) And now, dear friends, I'm passing some of my favorites on to you.

First up is Amazon's Mechanical Turk (delightfully subtitled 'Artificial Artificial Intelligence').

We all know that we can find just about anything on the internets, and we know that you can buy just about anything on Amazon, but sometimes the best results come from a little human intervention. Mechanical Turk is that human intervention. It was created to do what major corporations can't, by acting as a marketplace where people can either offer their skills or hire people to do the kind of personalized work that computers just aren't very good at doing. For example, you could hire someone to make a list of the top 20 European travel websites, or to create a design logo for your fledgling company, you could even commission someone to draw a caricature of you. Just submit your problem and what you're willing to pay for a solution then wait for them to start coming in. You only pay for the submissions that you approve; so if you ask for a drawing of a yeti and get twenty submissions you only have to shell out for the ones you want to keep. It's important to note, though, that Mechanical Turk works best with products that can be sent via the internet, so you might want to hold off on posting an ad for a bespoke tux.

Speaking of Amazon, I'd like to show you a better way to keep track of your Wish List. My Price Track will keep a constant watch over a specific item, (public) Wish List, registry, or the like by listing an item's current price on Amazon as well as its historical lowest price (while new).

You can even add it to your RSS feed, set price points, priority, and a couple of other handy features that will help keep buyer's remorse at bay.

Next up is YouTube Disco.

Designed to be something like Pandora for music videos Disco lets you put in either an artist or song title and will immediately send you to one of the band's music videos as well as providing you with a related playlist at the bottom of the screen. The playlist generally includes more songs by the artist you've searched for as well as songs with a similar sound. You can shuffle the list, put it on autoplay, even choose one of the other videos if they've been foolish enough to include a song you hate. It's not as sophisticated as Pandora, and they haven't gotten around to including up-and-comers in their algorithms yet, but what it does give you is a much more diverse playlist than the corporate-sponsored ones which usually appear in the 'suggestions' column.

Last on today's tour of the beta internet is Google City Tours.

Depending on the type of traveller you are, you can think of this site as either a starting point or a planning destination. Just put in a city (or in some cases a specific part of a city) and Google will give you a list of sites to see and provide a very detailed walking tour map that's been adjusted for the number of days you're staying (for now, at least, that number of days can only be between 1 and 5). Since you provide Google with the starting date of your trip the information you get is going to be date-specific, which means you won't be building an entire day around a visit to a museum that's closed; but you can always add and remove sites from the suggested itinerary if you're not completely satisfied with what they've recommended.

Congratulations, kids, you're now internet insiders (well, technically, insider-adjacent-adjacent), use your new knowledge wisely.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mummy's Home!

Oh, my darlings! How I've missed you. (Dickie, get my coat.) I can't believe it's been 4 months already (Dickie, I said the coat.) - look how you've grown! Why, I barely recognize you all! Come, step into the sunlight so Texas can get a good look at you. What has Cordelia been feeding you? You're all skin and bones. (Dickie, are you just going to stand there, or are you going to bring the dogs in?) No, I'm not saying you look horrible, darling - you look lovely as always. I'm just saying that maybe it wouldn't kill you to have the breadsticks once in a while. No, I'm not trying to - oh, honestly, now you're just being dramatic. Oh, I'm the dramatic one? Well, I like that! If you didn't have your father's - no, I will bring him into this, because it's a matter of principle, sweetheart, and - oh, fuck it - run along and read some of these awesome lifestyle blogs and leave me with my Pimm's.

1. Life + Times (Sean Carter)

Yes, I'm being lazy, and no, I won't apologize. This blog, unlike many, many others we could name, is an experience-rich format that introduces music, fashion, sports, and art to us through the lens of hip-hop's reigning King.

2. Vickers & Patrick (Sarah Vickers & Kiel James Patrick)

Go-to-hell pants? These two have go-to-hell everything. A series of images and photographs conveys all this power-prep duo has to say about work, culture, summer, art, and life in a neatly New England format.

3. Fa-Lo-Me (Laney Crowell)
Far be it from me to feed the beast of the Sex & the City cultural fixation, but Laney's life is as close to the real thing as one gets. At turns charming, vulnerable, cutesy, and utterly annoying, Fa-Lo-Me chronicles her forays into cooking, dating, dressing, and living the part of a self-reinventing New York City girl.

4. Kevin Kelly (Kevin Kelly)
Come here for a high-handed treatment of films, books, technology and miscellany. KK's lifestream (I mean, sure, why not - it's yours and you can call it what you want) represents the most interesting of elements that our esteemed narrator stumbles across in his daily wanderings. Expect lots of discussion of recent films, a dash of reference to new reading material, tons of photographs and video clips, and a smidge of philosophical posturing (some of it rather good).