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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Enjoying new stuff -- and "writely" so! Also, thanks to Cesar....

I don't know whether I've mentioned lately just how attached I've become to my iPod Mini and the iTunes software.

What started as a means for keeping myself entertained with music has become a "professional tool" as I now make daily downloads of various NPR and BBC podcasts part of my routine. Besides helping me keep up with news, book reviews, op-eds, etc., while driving to the office each day, I am also hearing a good deal more about new online "gadgets".

This past week I heard folks praising an online wordprocessor called "Writely" (www.writely.com). Damn thing actually looks pretty good.

There has been a lot of chatter about free or cheap online software that might replace the "office suites", but the few times I've followed up on these they have been pretty disappointing. Writely, however, looks and acts like the real thing. When I gave it a try earlier today it seemed to be a lot slower than many of the reviewers had indicated (in fact, they had highlighted the responsiveness and speed for the program), but the developers posted an explanation noting that all the hype had taken them by surprise and they were getting lots more hits than expected as a result. They promised to get things back to normal soon. Even so, it really does look like an interesting option for those of us who are working collaboratively with folks at a distance.

As for iTunes, when combined with a new set of Bose headphones (really great stuff! Worth every cent....), I now have the capacity to sit anywhere in my home with the laptop and access the growing collection of music uploaded on my desktop. While I originally used the iTunes because it provided a convenient means for uploading to the iPod, its "sharing" function allows me to hear my music over the wireless network we have set up in our house. (At this moment I am listening to the final movement of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony -- which is on my desktop computer in the basement -- while sitting with my wireless laptop at my bedside on the second floor....) Impressive!

This has proven to have other benefits as well. I recently installed iTunes on my office computer at UNH with the intention of being able to play some background music from my iPod during the workday, but as it turns out I don't even have to plug in my Mini. Someone who goes by the name "cesar" has (purposefully or otherwise) left his "share music" function on his iTunes software which is hooked into the UNH server that I am on -- and so I have access to an enormous collection of music (3919 distinct songs as of today -- more than 13 gigabytes worth) which Cesar has brought together. Some of it is not my "cup of tea", but then there are the dozens of classic rock albums he (or possibly she) has taken the trouble to post. Thank you Cesar -- and thank you iTunes.....

There are also other gadgets within my reach as the winter break begins -- including a newer iPod my wife received as a gift. She is already using it to watch episodes of "Desparate Housewives" -- and I am hoping to get a closer look in the near future....

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