Every once in a while I come across a cool little tool that makes life on the web just a little easier, or a bit more fun. Here are three that I use fairly often:
TinyURL: Let’s say you just read a great article in The New York Times and you want to tell your friends about it. Unfortunately, you’re not sure you can remember the URL (web address): http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/16/opinion/16dowd.html? ex=1253073600&en=cd231d47f63894da&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland. The good news is that you don’t really have to. Instead, you can go to tinyurl.com and paste that gobbledygook into a field, and the web site will spit back a tinyURL like this: http://tinyurl.com/3jxyt. Now, any time you put that tinyurl into the address field, it will take you to the New York Times article.
BugMeNot: Have you ever gone to a news site, such as the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times, only to be barred from entry until you give up your email address and other personal information for their free registration? Well, now you can “bypass compulsory registration” at most sites. Just go to bugmenot.com and type the URL for the site you’re trying to view (e.g. http://www.washingtonpost.com). BugMeNot will give you a user name and password that someone has donated.
Mailinator: Another way to get around the personal disclosure part of the free registration trap is to type in bogus information. Some sites, though, require email confirmation before granting you access; they send an email to the address you enter and give you a link that you need to follow to “activate” your registration. So, a bogus email address will backfire. That’s where mailinator.com comes in. Instead of typing your real email address, type any name at mailinator.com (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org). Then, all you have to do is go to mailinator.com, type that fake address (in our example, lilswede) in the “Check your inbox” field, and press the “Go” button. You’ll see the confirmation email sent to you by the site that made you register. Open it and follow the instructions as usual. You can think of mailinator.com as a provider of temporary email addresses. Oh, the email people send to mailinator is temporary, too—it’s automatically deleted after a few hours.
TypoGenerator: Because I’m feeling extra geeky tonight, I’ll tell you about this other tool, the typoGenerator. When you go to the web site, type a word or phrase in the input field and press the Generate button. Then, according to the site, ” typoGenerator searches images.google for the text and creates a background from the found images, using randomly chosen effects…it places the text, using random effects, too.” You can look artsy fartsy without any effort whatsoever. Here are three “typoposters” I generated at the site: