Surf Like a Pro

Today is a major marker in the history of my life. I had 70 pages of paper in my hand a few hours ago and they were all delivered to the respective classes. That means I’m done for the school year except one minor exam. I am one happy person.

There is a post that I wanted to write for a while but I couldn’t justify it with all the school work. I want to share with you a few tools that I have used or been using online to help get the most out of my internet experience. Some you might be interested in, others you may disregard. Some of them will help you make sense of some of the links at the side of my blog and millions of other blogs. All of them will certainly improve your internet experience.

G-MAIL (nathancolquhoun at gmail dot com)
I had been using hotmail since around grade five, that’s about eleven years. I never really had any massive problems with it except only having 20mb of space. I was able to check it on Microsoft Outlook and it would stay updated with my inbox. However, now that I’ve started using G-Mail, everything is different. Here is why you should switch. For starters you get almost 3 GB of space for your e-mail. That’s 12 times more than hotmail gives you (if you want more from hotmail you need to pay). G-Mail uses Google search capabilities and can bring up an e-mail for you in a second by a few search strings. G-mail uses tags to sort your e-mail instead of folders. So instead of only being able to label your e-mail by one word, you can label it by as many as you want and can sort them that way. It is a way more efficient way to organize your e-mail. G-mail also integrates beautifully with all Google products like Picasa (a handy picture sorter/editor). You can also now sign up your Google account with msn and switch your contact list over in seconds. G-mail keeps your e-mails for viewing as conversations, not as separate e-mails. So if I send 10 e-mails back and forth between my girlfriend, it saves them all in one window to read easy everything that was said. G-mail has awesome filtering features to you can label your e-mail as it comes into your inbox. There is a plethora of reasons of why you should switch, so just do it, you won’t regret it.

FLICKR (my flickr album)
I’ve mentioned this a little bit already. Sign up for FLICKR for free and set up your own online picture gallery. You can sort and label them like you would e-mail in G-MAIL, with tags instead of folders. Friends can leave comments. You can make some private and some public. Easy to integrate with web development software (like the FLICKR board at the side of my site). You can also upgrade ($30 a year) and get up to 2 GB upload bandwidth a month and unlimited space. I already have 3500 full res pictures uploaded. It also works for a great back-up for all your pictures in case something ever happens to your hard drive.

DEL.ICIO.US (my delicious account)
This one may be new to a lot of you. Imagine your bookmarks/favourites folder online. Instead, once again, sorting it in folders, it sorts it in tags. So you can take for instance www.nathancolquhoun.com and tag it as ‘friend church articles design’ etc. and you could go on forever. Check out my delicious site for an example of how it works. You never lose your favourites using this and you have access to them absolutely anywhere. Also, you can search other people’s favourites to see what they have saved or what tags they use.

We all know what internet explorer is because that is what comes with windows. I knew a lot of people used firefox, but I was hesitant to use it. When I tried it out, I only needed about 5 minutes and I was sold. Firefox is a web browser that is essential for anyone who does a lot of surfing. You can change skins to suit your need (I currently use IFOX SMOOTH). You can add and pick from hundreds of extensions to make it do exactly what you want. For instance, I have SAGE READER installed and with a click of a button it automatically checks every blog I read and gives me the latest updates on them. I never miss reading a blog. There is also a DELICIOUS button so that when I stumble on a site that I like, I just hit the button enter a few words and it automatically saves it to my site. There are hundreds of extensions to choose from to help you with whatever whether it is research, blogging, graphic editing, humour, news or just straight up blog reading. Firefox is a definite must get if you want to have better control over your surfing.

PODCASTS (my podcast)
To understand a PODCAST think about a radio show that is made once a week. They put this radio show online for people to download. If you subscribe to the PODCAST then it will automatically download to your machine whenever there is an update. I switched over to itunes to make it easier to do. There are some great podcasts out there, and you will like what is for you and probably not what I like, but there are thousands to choose from. You don’t’ need to have an IPOD to listen to podcasts. The benefit of the IPOD is that it will stay updated with all your latest shows (they have video podcasts now too) and you never have to ‘transfer’ them over every week/day. I think every church should have a podcast of their weekly sermon, I know that theStory will have that when there is a message, why not make it available online for everyone at anytime? So find some podcasts that you like and subscribe to them and see where it takes you. You can even subscribe to mine at the side bar.

FEEDS (my feed)
This is more of an explanation of what they are. A feed (like you will see in my sidebar) is a link that you would insert into your feed aggregator (like SAGE in FIREFOX). When you insert my feed, the reader will check my feed every day or so for new updates and inform you when there is some, you can also get a feed for the latest comments left on this blog. Most blogs, including blogspot blogs, have feeds to its really nice to have a good collection of feeds (I have almost 50) of blogs or news sites that you like and they will always keep you updated.

You might have noticed the words at the bottom of each post. TECHNORATI tags are tags that link to other sites that are talking about the same thing. So for instance, if I do a post on biblical inerrancy, I would tag my blog with that title and then you can click on it and it will take you a list of other blogs or people that are talking about the same thing. It also works vice versa to bring people to this site that are looking for information about a subject that I’m talking about. You can set the same thing up on your blog.

So maybe this will help you understand what’s going on in my sidebar and enrich your internet experience a little bit better.

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