Damn you, Indecision!

Big blog dump

That’s probably not the best blog post title, but perhaps it will grab your attention more. 🙂

I’ve come across a ton of interesting stuff that I’ve wanted to post about but haven’t because of various reasons.  So I’m just going to dump it all here, stream-of-consciousness-like.

As I mentioned before, I found some online mind mapping applications that look promising:

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1. bubbl.us: Very bubbly-looking, easy-to-use mind mapping site. You don’t even have to sign in to start. When you sign up for a free account, you get the capability to save and print your mind maps. It was nice (I used it for mind mapping the Sansa Connect review I did), but I didn’t like how it did not intelligently move the bubbles around so that they didn’t overlap each other. I spent just about as much time rearranging the bubbles as I did mapping out ideas.

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2. MindMeister: This mind mapping site made the rounds on Twitter (as I noticed it, perhaps others on Twitter were talking about this before) when Steve Rubel was sending out his invites to the first 20 or so people to direct messaged him.  Unfortunately I missed out, but when I was looking up online mind mapping sites last night I came across a review on Download Squad that said they were able to get an invite to the private beta right away after requesting one directly. That was also my experience, luckily. This site was a lot less flashy and bubbly than bubbl.us, but I liked the clean look. I also appreciated that it was more intelligent about moving around nodes as I entered text. I used this service to mind map out my review for the Yahoo Music Unlimited (not yet published) subscription service. Hopefully I can paste in the mind map without all the hassle of reformatting that I had to do for the Sansa Connect mind map dump.

MindMeister is free for a trial period, but after the trial is over, there’s a monthly subscription fee (sorry, can’t remember it right now). I think there are also limitations to the free account, like you can only create up to 5 mind maps, but don’t quote me on that.

* Incidentally, I have 20 invitations for MindMeister to give out, so let me know if you want one.

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3. Mindomo: No private beta on this one. I signed up for an account but since I’d spent so much time on the other two, I ran out of time to check out this service. At first glance it looked like it had more formatting features, but the hotkeys to spawn child and/or sibling nodes didn’t seem as easy-to-use as the first two sites. More impressions later after I’ve played around with the site more.

All of these sites (AFAIK) offer collaboration features, so that you can share your mind maps and even edit mind maps simultaneously with other people. I don’t mind map enough for that feature to be useful to me right now. Mainly I was looking for a free or inexpensive way to do some quick mind maps on my iMac. There are a lot more stand-alone applications for both OS X and Windows that I might explore later.

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Next topic: I bought a Wii a few weekends ago! My Twitter/Jaiku friends already knew this (come on, join up, people!). *smirk*  The hubby and I went on a blitz shopping run on April 1st (a Sunday) because I’d read that some stores were going to get a new shipment of Nintendo Wii consoles that day. We didn’t get up as early as we were planning to, but luckily after checking a few stores in a couple different ‘burbs, we were able to get the next to the last “ticket” for a Wii at Toys ‘R Us in Downers Grove. So that’s why for a while I was kind of blog silent; I was spending much of my free time playing Wii Sports or WarioWare Smooth Moves. 😀 The Wii is an awesome console that is largely aimed at casual gamers like me. We have short attention spans, only want to play some games for short bursts rather than all-day frag fests or whatever, and may not enjoy having to learn a lot of complicated button combos or strategies just to play a game. The interactivity on the Wii with the motion-sensitive controllers is pretty awesome. I meant to buy Super Paper Mario tonight, but forgot while I was at Target this evening. Oh well, I’ll pick it up tomorrow. 🙂

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Topic #3: Though I had read about it a while ago, I just got around to playing with Songbird a couple nights ago. Songbird is a Mozilla product that basically is a music-centric web browser. When you go to certain websites like mp3 blogs, it will create a “web playlist” of all of the downloadable/streamable tracks on that site, and you can play the tracks without having to download them to your machine first. It provides many ways to explore and find a lot of great music very quickly. It can act as a replacement for iTunes or other music management software, and through extensions can even sync with iPods or other USB devices. It’s also cross-platform, working on OS X, Windows, and Linux.

I am not entirely sure how it all works, and I’m sure I’m not giving the program justice with my lame description. So just go to their homepage and click on the “Watch the screencast” link. The voiceover is cheesy, but it really demonstrates the cool features of this media app. It’s still pretty beta, so keep that in mind. But don’t let it prevent you from trying out this cool app!

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Topic #4: I just saw news today that the iRiver Clix 2 finally went on sale, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger on ordering it.  I hope it arrives in the mail very soon!  I’ve been following the Clix since the first generation device that was called the U10 (before the name change), so I’ve waited long enough. 🙂

Now I need to return or sell the Sansa Connect to offset the price. *sheepish grin*  To be fair, the Clix 2 is cheaper than the Connect at $199, but has the same 4GB capacity (an 8GB version is supposed to come out in June, but I can’t wait).  Yes, it’s lacking the WiFi and all of the associated goodness of the Connect, but I gain a bigger screen, video playback capability, Flash games (eh, just a nice little bonus that I probably won’t use much), possibly better podcast support, and the cool Clix interface.  It also can switch between MTP and UMS, so if I wanted to, I could just use UMS and drag and drop files to it, never needing sync software again.  But it also supports music subscription services, so I might try a Rhapsody subscription.  The MoTR guys seem to like the service a lot, so I’ll give it a try.  Stay tuned for a review of that device. 😀

There are a few more interesting topics I have wanted to blog about, but I think I’ve overloaded this post already.  Sorry, I had to get all caught up!

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