Top 10 Technology Innovations
Fast and a zillion times more reliable than other free email services, Gmail is integrated with my calendar, documents, and chat. It’s easy to organize, and has a lot of cool Labs features that enhance the overall experience. Special thanks goes out to the friend who relentlessly peer pressured me into trying Gmail.
The trouble with taking advantage of the numerous free services you can sign up for online is that you have to actually upkeep all of your profiles. Unless, of course, you want to send the message that you’ve been “working” since 2006. Sign up for Ping.fm, link it to your different profiles (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Google Chat, etc. etc.), and bam — you update in one place and the change is reflected on ALL of those sites. I’ve got it set up so that if I send an IM to the Ping.fm bot on my Google Chat list, it updates all my various statuses. None of this running around logging into eight different things each time I want to update friends. Done and done.
Good riddance, giant CD wallet of doom. Hello, podcasts, audiobooks, and music for days. Tiny plastic box: $249. Tackling Dickens’ entire catalog while walking to and from work: priceless.
4. Google Reader
My adoption of this service signified the end of checking 97 web sites compulsively every time I opened a browser, and signified the beginning of letting just the updates from those sites come directly to me. Besides saving a lot of time, this also enabled me to pick up with reading the Internet right where I left off at any given instant.
5. Google Calendar
A planner that lives on the Internet, can be accessed and updated from wherever you happen to be sitting, can be shared with others, and can never be lost or “forgotten” on my desk at home. I can organize my own calendar, along with the other calendars that matter to me, and then I can color code them. It reminds me to give the cats their flea medication, and that I need to pay certain bills. And it keeps my husband and I from double-booking without the use of some unwieldy refrigerator wipe-off board.
Completely idiot-proof to use, and it means you will never, ever be lost in DC again. The stress and danger of dealing with maps and written directions while driving is now gone. You just listen to the voice that says “Left turn in point. Five. Miles.”
Like browser favorites, but instead of living in your browser, they live on the internet. You have the ability to make them public or private, of course. And you have them at your fingertips no matter WHERE you are in the world. Need to find that one article that you’re sure you saved three years ago? A simple search through your delicious will do the trick. And these babies never need to be transferred to a new/additional machine, and can never be lost by a crashed browser, either.
8. USPS Click n’ Ship
Click n’ Ship means NEVER HAVING TO GO TO THE POST OFFICE AGAIN. Suddenly, the universe seems like a kinder place.
This web site will sell you tons of different toiletries, household items, snacks, etc. with free shipping. The only catch is that you have to be buying six items at a time — no big deal for most of us, whose errand lists are never shorter than 10 things. If you’re like me and hate to travel out of your neighborhood and into the trafficky, sprawl-laden abyss just to pick up toothpaste, toilet paper, and household cleaners, Alice.com will change your life. I spend a few minutes ordering things, they get to me in roughly two days, and I never have to waste an afternoon buying too many things I don’t need at Target.
10. Buying groceries online
Just kidding, this hasn’t happened yet, but I needed another item to make it an even 10. As far as I know, there are no services available for Richmond, but I am patiently waiting / hoping Alice.com will expand. You see, I really don’t mind doing most chores. Gardening, cleaning, organizing, bookkeeping, etc. Love it. Love it all. But grocery shopping is something I absolutely loathe and detest. I just hate the stress of the situation: the crowds, the rotten produce (ahem, Kroger), the infinite choices (for someone who loves all food, this is daunting), the way all stores are organized differently and you can never find the olives, the self-checkouts that are either broken or yelling at you in robot voices, the milk that’s sitting in the cart as you wait 40 minutes to be checked out, the crazies in the parking lot, and so on, and so forth. I know technology will save me from this too; it’s just a matter of time.