Category Archives: Websites

OK, I’ve admitted it before, but I’m cheap. There are any number of expensive and not so expensive pieces of software you can get for your computer, but there’s nothing like free. For serendipitously finding freeware, I rely on Download Squad. They do reviews of mostly free software and I’ve found some interesting tools there that I’ll write about shortly. In the meantime, head on over there and check it out. Oh, and I’ll forgive the fact that they’re part of Weblogs, Inc, which is owned by that Internet stalwart, AOL (heck, another Weblogs, Inc. site, Engadget, is another of my favorites).

Well, I’m sure there are already a billion sites that aggegate podcasts, but I’m just starting out in this phenomenon and this is the first I came across. Odeo uses tagging (a la Flickr and del.icio.us) to organize the podcasts on the service (and there are thousands of them). You can post a URL to your own podcasts and they’re planning on having a service that would allow you to create podcasts from your computer microphone, an existing MP3, or over the phone. So far, it looks pretty cool, but we’ll see how good the content and the accuracy of the tagging is.

Let’s start with Photography. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no pro (though I did win $25 in a contest once!), but I’m definitely an avid enthusiast. I’ve been shooting digital for about 8 years, which means I took some pretty crappy pictures 8 years ago. Between my wife, Jean, and myself, we have 3 digital cameras we actively use (more on that later). There are several sites I use as great references for a number of different purposes. For equipment reviews, the must read digital photography site is DPReview. They have the most comprehensive reviews I’ve seen and their forums have a very high participation rate (you often have your questions answered in minutes). Steve’s Digicams also has good reviews and is where I go to find printer reviews. If you have a digital SLR and are looking for new lenses, check out Fred Miranda’s site. I usually go there for good, user-contributed reviews of an assortment of lenses (especially Canon, Nikon, Sigma, and Tamron). They also have some tutorials, but many of them involve purchasing Fred’s Photoshop Plugins (haven’t actually tried any of them yet).

There are several sites that have product information as well as tutorials to improve your photography. My favorite is probably Luminous Landscape. They have very comprehensive reviews (including field tests), though mostly of higher-end equipment (digital SLRs and accessories). They also have really good lessons on how to use your camera more effectively and how to maximize your photography through post-processing in Photoshop. Photo.net has tutorials that cover the basics and reviews from contributing pros. What I find interesting there is that readers can comment on many of the articles and the authors will actually respond. So don’t stop at the end of the article, keep reading the comments. I use Vivid Light Photography mostly for the tutorials, though they do have some reviews (not nearly as good as dpreview). They also have an monthly email newsletter highlighting their latest articles (one of these days all these sites will learn about RSS!).

Speaking of gadget freaks, if you’re one and you’re not regularly visiting Engadget and Gizmodo, then do it now! And they both have RSS feeds so you can track them everyday in your reader. Speaking of RSS readers, the RSS capabilties of My Yahoo! are pretty darned good for getting a little snapshot of your favorite feeds. For a more comprehensive view, I’ve been using the Sage extension for Firefox. There are readers out there that may organize feeds better, but I like how Sage renders the feeds – almost like reading a magazine (complete with pictures!). Check out Engadget and Gizmodo with Sage – I rarely need to visit the actual sites anymore!