Making Craigslist Look Good

October 31, 2009

Craigslist.org is a very useful site that a lot of you are probably already familiar with it. It’s how I got my apartment and a lot of my friends and colleagues have done the same. My major problem with the site is the design. It’s about as interesting as the newspaper Classified ads that’s it is replacing. The really sad thing is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Check out Craiglook.com. Using only the data that is already on the Craigslist site, you get a much more easily usable way to search for the types of ads that you are looking for. A few navigation tips though, the front page looks like it has check boxes, but they are actually links, so I would either use the text entry at the top or click through the category first. This minor hiccup, however, does not prevent the site from being a big improvement over the Craigslist site itself.

Makeuseof.com also had a few useful Craigslist tools that I would like to mention. The first is one I’ve mentioned before on the blog is called Typobuddy. This little site will check Craigslist (and eBay) for common typos and misspellings to see if it can find additional listing that may not have gotten much attention. This is a sneaky way to get a little more value for your search time.

The last site I want to point out is Weekend Treasure.com. This site uses Craigslist and other listings to help you find garage and yard sales that are happening in your area. Simply type in your zip code and a series of pins will pop-up on a Google map for you to check out. This makes it a very simple, but very slick tool for finding potential bargains.

Do you have other ways of getting the most from Craigslist? Let me know in the comments.


All Work and No Play Makes Techeap a Dull Blog

October 24, 2009

It would have been nice if I had been able to write about the new Windows  7 release and share my views on it. However, I never got the release candidate and it is no longer available. If you are using it, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Since I can’t write about that, I will write about some interesting gaming websites I’ve come across.

The first is actually for “optical productivity,” that is looking like you are being productive. At Can’t you see I’m busy! You get a series of games that actually look like they are business documents. There is a block-busting game that looks like a word document, a game where you are flying a rocket between two line graphs and a game like Super Collapse, where you click on groups of the same color in bar graphs. They are pretty basic games, but they do look pretty convincing office suite software.

The next site that I found was Jeopardy Labs. This would probably be most useful in an educational environment, but you could probably fine a use for it at a party. Basically, you enter a series of answers and question on to a Jeopardy board, and then you can use the website to run the game. A player choose a category and dollar amount, you click on the question and ask it. Then you apply the points for correct and incorrect answers. The important thing that confused me is that you have to do the scoring in the page for the question. Otherwise, the question won’t be taken off the board. The about page explains using the site well if you have any questions.

The final site that I’ll mention is TheSixtyOne.com. This site combines a music site with a quest system. This is very similar to achievements if you’ve seen or played an Xbox 360. The way it works is that you get bonuses for performing certain activities (usually for listening for certain types of songs) on the site. These bonuses give you extra votes (or hearts) to denote the songs that  you like and have them move up the charts. It’s a very interesting system and can be kind of gratifying when you complete a little quest. If you want to sign up for the site, you should use my name (zargonddg) as a referer. (It’s one of the quests. 🙂 )

Have any cool games or relaxation site that you want to let others know about?

Add them in the comments.


It’s a Secret to Everybody

October 17, 2009

Pardon the obscure reference (bonus points if you recognize it without Google) and my unexpected time off last week, but I’ve got a new interesting, bit of free stuff on the web for you today.

This week, I’m going to talk about an unusual offering called Mystery Google, but this requires a bit of a side trip to explain what really brought this to mind.

A fellow blogger heard about a fellow who went to a cafe in Japan. Nothing too unusual so far, but the interesting thing about it is that you don’t get what you order and pay for.

You actually get what the person in front of you ordered and paid for. It seems a little strange so an example might be in order. Let’s say the cafe gets three customers a day.

Person A orders a cookie.
Person B orders a hot dog.
Person C orders 2 nachos.

However, what they receive is different.

Person A actually gets whatever was ordered last the night before.
Person B gets a cookie.
Person C gets a hot dog.

And the first customer tomorrow is going to get 2 nachos.

Pretty interesting, but you do have to be able to eat a variety of things in order to try this sort of cuisine. Food allergies or vegetarianism might lead to some trouble.

Anyway, Mystery Google works on the same premise. You actually get the search results of the person who did a search before you.

I just did a search for “It’s a Secret to Everybody” and got the search results for “Mistery Google,” which basically gave me the misspelling search results for Mystery Google. While that isn’t terribly creative, I have gotten some interesting results during other test searches.

Another search lead me to Kittens, which led me to the lolcatz website. Something that I had actually wanted to see what the fuss was about. This site mostly contains pictures of cats with sometimes humorous captions, but many of them seem to be inter-related and only funny to those in the know. I did like this one though.

In any case, this may be an opportunity for you to pick up some additional knowledge on a subject that you had no idea you were interested in. There are caveats though. I have gotten content inappropriate for younger folks trying to gross out the system. You could imagine people at the restaurant ordering liver and Limburger cheese or something worse.

Get any interesting results? Let me know in the comments.


I am A Tech Blogger, AMA

October 3, 2009

For those unfamiliar, AMA stands for ask me anything. While looking around for an interesting topic to talk about this week, I came across something that I visit periodically but hadn’t really thought of as a good resource.

You’ll find it on Reddit.com (pronounced like read it) and it is called “IAmA.” The interesting thing about it is that people from all walks of life come on this community and answer questions about their lives. Right now, people are asking questions to a K-Street Washington lawyer, an ex-Mennonite, and a guard for Iraqi detainees.

There are a number of fascinating conversations, and if you want to sign up for an account you can also ask your own questions. Reddit also works with a ‘karma’ points system, so that people can vote up conversations that are interesting and vote down conversation that are juvenile or spam. This system really seems to improve the conversation and get interesting topics to the top of the lists.

Some responders respond more quickly than other and some conversations have been proven to be false, but a good majority of the content is accurate and very interesting.

One word of warning though is that it can definitely be a big time sink. Sometimes you can get involved in threads of conversation and realize the you’ve been reading about other people’s lives for an hour.

If you are willing to take that risk, however, it is definitely an interesting place to check and learn about your fellow humans.

Any questions? AMA in the comments.