Internet News and service reviews


What Online Services would you recommend?

I saw this topic at the Connected Internet blog and thought that it would be nice to round up all the Online Services that we can't live without anymore. I'm not speaking about Email, Usenet or ICQ but websites that offer something that you really enjoy, would recommend and don't want to miss anymore.

Switchplanet a social, media trading site

Please note that the following article is a paid review. You can be sure that I’m only accepting reviews of products or services that I think are interesting enough to be mentioned on my website and that I would consider using myself or that I'm actually using already.

Take a look at your CD, DVD, Game or Book collection for a minute. Do you see something that you will never use again ? I bet you do. What if I was to tell you that you could trade the media that you do not need anymore against new media that you are interested in ? This is the basic concept of Switchplanet.

Internet Speed Simulator

Speed Simulator is a nice free tool that makes it possible to see how a website behaves under certain speed limitations. This is for instance useful if you want to see how a user with a 56K modem experiences your site and especially the loading time of it. Only the download speed can be reduced to simulate slower connections.

binsearch usenet indexing

List of Usenet Indexing Websites

There are two possibilities to download binaries from the Usenet. The first one is the most common one. You download the headers of a newsgroup that you are interested in and select the files that you want to download. All of this is done in your newsclient. This method has some serious disadvantages.

You may not search through many newsgroups at once for instance or search for files in a large list of groups. Usenet indexing sites try to aid users by offering a way to search the contents of many newsgroups at once. They index new posts that appear in the observed groups and offer web interfaces that users can use to search for files.

Free Online Audio and Video Converter

You should take a look at the Media Convert online script if you want to quickly convert an audio or video file into another format without installing a software like Super or Media Convert on your computer. The online script is able to convert files from urls or from your computer with a maximum size of 150 megabytes.

The input format is automatically detected if you chose to upload it from your computer while you have to select the format for the url links by yourself. Various output formats exist that can be selected. The list of available audio and video formats is long and all popular formats are supported.

Pan Newsreader

I have been trying several newsreaders for the Usenet until I finally found the one and only newsreader Newsbin. I purchased it years ago and can only recommend it to everyone else who is serious about the Usenet. I do know however that some users prefer free software and that is why I took a look at the Pan newsreader which is available for Windows, Mac and Unix.

Pan Newsreader is offering a lot of features that commercial Usenet readers such as Newsbin are offering as well. It does support download binaries of course offering single-click encoding, multiple connections and simultaneous downloads and image previews of downloaded images.

About the Trimark Anti-Piracy Solution

I first read about Trimark at the Torrent Freak blog. This new anti-piracy solution targets websites and the Usenet by scanning the contents for serial numbers that have been implemented into the music files. An identified serial number would lead to the owner - the person that purchased the music - who will be held reliable for the damages caused by the spreading.

The article did not contain information about the technology behind Trimark other than that the "identification code maintains it’s integrity, despite copying or ripping." This is a very bold statement and I personally don't think that such a system will be possible unless they implement it in music that can be purchased in digital form only.

apple panorama photosynth

Future Technology Seadragon and Photosynth

Seadragon and Photosynth are two new technologies that have been presented at the TED 2007 conference by it's architect Blaise Aguera y Arcas. Seadragon is basically a way to navigate seamlessly through a very large amount of image data. He was giving three examples at the presentation.

First he introduced a 300 Megapixel image, then that he was able to zoom into a complete book and lastly that it was possible to create new types of ads that would allow to zoom in and reveal details that would not be possible otherwise.

A collaborative Art Projekt

I'm normally not that easily fascinated by art, especially be the form of art found on the Internet. This art project however caught me by surprise. I found reference to the picture on Digg where it was advertised as "The Most Awesome Pic EVER". My first thought was of course that someone was again using the term awesome to draw attention to his article. This might have worked for the first post on Digg with the term awesome in it but Digg is flooded with it nowadays.

6200 high-res and widescreen wallpapers

Desktop Nexus is a site with a wide variety of high resolution and widescreen wallpapers. The wallpapers are divided into popular categories such as Entertainment, Video Games and Cars. Each category displays the most popular, the newest and a selection of random wallpapers from that category next to a tag cloud and sub categories that define the selection even further.

One main feature of Desktop Nexus is that wallpapers are available in a lot of different formats that suit full screen and widescreen monitors. Resolutions start at 800x600 for full screen monitors and end at 1600x1200 there. The widescreen wallpapers start at 1280x800 and 2560x1600.

open subtitles

Biggest multi-language subtitle database

I prefer watching a foreign movie with subtitles over watching it synchronized. This has mainly two reasons. The first is that I feel that a lot of atmosphere is lost when you hear Bruce Willis or Brad Pitt speaking in a foreign language. The second reason is that I can use subtitles to view movies that are not officially available in my country.

I'am not speaking about movie downloads here - although that would be a possible application as well - but about legal purchases of movies that have been created in Asia and Scandinavia. Many of those movies have no synchronization and English subtitles which would mean that I would not be able to enjoy the movie.

Avoid multiple login names with OpenID

I really like the idea of an open and decentralized standard which allows you to sign in to
multiple websites without entering your username and password over and over again on every site that requires you to login to
vote (, comment, or participate in other means. There are so many sites where you have to login to use basically the same features that you used on another site just before you visited the new one.

Flickr Best of 2006 Voting

A collection of the best photos published on Flickr in 2006 with an option to vote for all of them in a voting process that reminds me of those hot or not type of sites.

Your first option is to take a look at how the photos have been rated by other users. Please be aware that all of the photos on the site are the best of 2006 and that the rating on this external site is only a rating of good photos. It can happen that a photo gets only 1 point which means that is is bad considered to a photo with a higher rating but still great if you consider all photos on Flickr for this year.

Flitter a Flickr Twitter realtime screensaver

If you are looking for a rather unique screensaver for Windows 2000, XP or Windows Vista you should take a look at Flitter which is a mashup from Flickr and Twitter at the moment. What it does is that it is retrieving realtime data from both Flickr and Twitter to display those when the screensaver is active.

You obviously need a computer that is connected to the Internet to use this screensaver but it is very well worth it. The default setting for the screensaver pulls data from the public timelines of both Flickr and Twitter but you have the possibility to custom this further.

utorrent remote

Control uTorrent from a Website

I always thought that it would be nice to administrate uTorrent from work as well. Do things like adding new torrents, deleting old ones and the like would be really comfortable. The great thing is that this is actually possible if you use uTorrent. All you need is to enable to so called WebUi and download a small additional rar file that will be placed on your local computer. I would suggest that you download the latest official version of uTorrent but you could also use the beta versions that are posted in the forum.

Attempted copyright infringement soon to become a crime

The first thing that came to my mind when I read "Attempted copyright infringement" was the term thought crime. It seems that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pressing the U.S. Congress to enact a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including "attempts" to commit piracy.

Get your own real lightsaber

I always wanted to have one of those lightsabers since the first time that I was watching Star Wars back then when the first movie came out. We used all sorts of replacements like flashlights, sticks and swords to play Star Wars as kids, the rest was done by our imagination. Using those replacements did not make a big difference for us kids but it surely would feel awkward to do this as an adult.


TeacherTube learn while watching videos

Specialized Youtube clones are appearing every day. Some are relatively weak while some offer videos targeted only at a certain niche that is grateful for not having to search Youtube for the videos that they would like to watch. TeacherTube is one of the better Youtube clones. It concentrates solely on the teaching aspect of videos which means that you will only find videos on TeacherTube that "teach something" to the viewer.