I pretty much live on the web. I pay bills, shop, communicate, and learn sitting at my computer. I thought I'd take a post to tell folks what I use, and why.
What: Feed Reader
$$: Free for now (I'll pay when the time comes)
Look at me
Bloglines is a feed aggregator. In English: it puts all the sites you read in one place, so you can see updates and read them much faster. I chose Bloglines over other readers because it's easy to use, and very forgiving of problems with feeds, so I get my fix even if there's a small problem with someone's site.
What: Bookmarks manager
Look at me
Delicious is a great idea that is changing the web. I recommend jumping in and trying it, as it's difficult to "get" until you do. What I do with it:
- Organize all my bookmarks. I rarely use my browser for this function anymore. Bookmarks are "tagged" with several keywords, so I can find them easily later.
- Keep up with several fields of interest, by subscribing to tags in Bloglines (each tag has a feed). What the heck, you say? Suppose a billion people use Delicious, and a million of them like cats. Those million are out there, finding stuff on the web about cats that I haven't seen. They put those sites in Delicious, and tag them "cats". Then I can see them too.
- Keep up with what my friends are bookmarking. For example, the Spousal Unit.
So Delicious is not only a place for organizing my own thoughts, it's a tremendous source of shared information as well.
$$: My Plus account is $19.99/year
Yep, I use Yahoo. I have for years. I don't like email clients on my computer, as they tend to be more vulnerable to viral attacks, I end up with mail in several places because I'll pull my mail on the web too, and it's a pain if you change ISPs. I like webmail. I like having everything in one place. Yahoo has proven reliable, and the Plus account gives me all the spam protection I need. Just don't expect customer service.
What: Customized radio
$$: My Plus account is $35.99/year
Look at me
I've been with Launch since about a month after they existed. The idea is you rate music, and after a while your personalized radio station has a pretty good idea of what you like. For the most part, it works really well. In addition, I've found a ton of new music through my personalized station. I pay for the Plus option because I hate ads, but you can try for free. There are tons of pre-programmed stations to get you listening right away.
What: ID Theft protection, credit information
$$: Silver option is $49.99/year
A few years ago, I watched a vid at work of an interview with an identity thief. It changed the way I think about my own credit safety, big time. That same day I signed up for CreditWatch, and I'm fairly confident that if someone messed with me, I'd know right away--and knowledge is everything. As an unexpected side-effect, I also cleaned up my credit. Along with watching for any new activity on my credit, I also got a several credit reports, along with all the information I needed to understand my FICO score, and how I could improve it. So I did. That alone was worth the subscription price.
What: Online bill pay
After decades of trying, a few years ago I finally realized that I cannot pay paper bills. I think I have a genetic defect that makes me horribly allergic to stamp glue. Paytrust (which used to be PayMy Bills, if I recall correctly) was one of the earlier services to come along, and it's good stuff. They are continually improving the service, and are great about listening to user feedback. My bills go directly to Paytrust, and they send me notifications. I go to the site and pay in three clicks. I love this service, and would never go back.
I know there's stuff I'm forgetting, but this is a good start. These services have enriched my life immeasurably. I love this webarnet thingie.