Find Sounds Easily Web 2.0 Style

Soundsnap LogoWith my involvement with The Global Geek Podcast, I am always on the look out for great resources. I find that one of the most enjoyable parts of production is in mixing in all the sounds and effects to give the piece a unique feel and personality. I derive a great deal of satisfaction getting the right sound and timing perfect. One of the most frustrating things about production is just that though, getting the right sound for what you can hear in your head. Soundsnap is a sound effects repository with a Web 2.0 slant, it is brilliant and just made the task of finding that perfect sound a breeze.

The front page presents all the categories of sounds that are available to browse. Clicking on any of these categories opens up a view that presents these sounds as pages. Here you can sample any sound with a simple flash player and get other information on each sound such as length and a wave form. Although I am not sure of the purpose of the waveform as it is too small to be useful. Clicking on it however gives you the sounds technical info. Sort by popularity or other criteria. See comments made on sounds, who uploaded it and click to see their profile and what else they have uploaded. You can expect the usual set of ranking and sorting features that are ever present in Web 2.0 style sites.

One feature that I really like is the ability to drill down the data within each category without searching. Under each category you can click on sub categories to refine your manual search. Makes it easier to find a specific type of sound. This is also a nice way to search for a specific sound as you might find something better than what you were thinking of.

Once you have found a sound that you want they are free to download and use. Sounds are available in .wav, .mp3 and .aiff. You don’t have to have an account to download files. Great to have the access without another login to worry about. The quality varies slightly but on the whole they are very good.

The presentation of the site is excellent. It looks slick and well done. There is plenty of Ajax goodness and the navigation is easy and intuitive. Full credit to the developers on this front. There are a number of sound repositories out there but there are none that are this well done. For a new (to me at any rate) site there are many, many FX to download and even some obscure ones that are hard to find. I noticed that the is a bucket load of loops available for music buffs; around 3,700 and this will only grow as time goes on. Hopefully one day it will make those very expensive sound effects disks that are available commercially obsolete. As a podcaster this is a fantastic resource and I would encourage those that are actively involved in the community to keep producing sounds and samples that will save our bacon.

Soundsnap Screenshot

 

Thanks etc.

Meet People with buddystumbler :: IM Exchange

BuddyStumbler Logo ResizedBuddystumbler looks to be a good site to meet people with similar interests. I think this service has a lot going for it in that it is simple and to the point along with one of the simplest sign ups and set ups that I have ever seen. I especially like the idea of tagging yourself for others to find.

When I landed on this page I was not sure what to make of it. But it gets straight to the point. A search box with a few operators to choose from. Such as male or female and age range. The search is something a bit different in that you are not searching for a name but rather by keyword, for potential friends. I thought it was a lot like tagging, tagging people. I searched for podcasting and podcast, I was disappointed to find that there were none. But then the site is fairly new and in beta. So not populated with the volume needed, yet.

But I like the idea. I don’t have that much time to keep up with the on-line contacts that I do have let alone create some more. But if you unlike me are looking for new friends then this is a great idea. The idea of searching for keywords or tags to find friends is an interesting concept. This is related to the sign up which allows you to write a brief description and then tag yourself as many times as you think necessary. Keywords that identify your interests, hobbies, personality and whatever else you can think up. You then input your username or names from Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL or all of them.

The meeting bit involves the exchange of IM names only and both parties have to agree. No other information other than the instant messenger user name you designate is exchanged. The rest is up to the people involved to chat via their respective IM clients. I think this is smart because the site has done the job and you pursue a friendship or contact away from the service. The inclusion of a shoutbox on your profile helps get things started if you don’t necessarily want to exchange usernames straight away. It does sound a bit like an on-line dating service, potentially it could end up like that but hopefully not.

Say I was new to podcasting and I wanted to find some new friends that would talk podcasting with me and give me some support in my new venture. This would be a great place to potentially find someone like that. This process is actually quite difficult otherwise and requires a fair bit of effort. You can search other places, email other podcasters and use services like Skype and search for users with descriptions that interest you. But this cuts to the chase and makes that a whole lot easier. The other advantage is that users of this service are expecting people to want to meet them and are more likely to respond. Better than the effort of an email which might result in being ignored.

The only way that this service is going to get better is for it to be populated, at present it is a bit limited. With the IM services having their fair share of spammers and idiots I can really see people needing and wanting this type of service. With that I think once the word gets out this will appeal to certain users and groups. Slick interface with a simple premise and ease of use it has appeal.

buddystumbler Screenshot

Search Engine Optimisation: Beginners Guide

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short is complicated stuff but this is a great place to start. Webmasters in particular are interested in this fine art. In short it is optimising your content on your site for indexing by search engines. That means that your site or blog is returned with search results for a given topic. You want that it is a good thing. How high up in the search you are is another. The quest is to be the number one result. That drives traffic and for businesses money. So it is important.

I don’t fully understand SEO, nor claim to. That is why I found this article called The Basics of Search Engine Optimisation to be excellent. I also thought that for most bloggers it had some good suggestions and ideas about how you can get a higher search rank. This basic guide is probably enough for most bloggers that use a service to host their blog. For new site and content creators it is a great place to start.

A great article and worth spending the time to read and do a few Wkikipedia searches on the terms that you don’t understand.

StumbleUpon Video… Yep It’s Good

StumbleUpon Video LogoStumbleUpon, is a great service that allows users to install a toolbar in their browser and “stumble” around the web. But rather than being random it sends you to sites that are A: Tailored to your preferences and interests and B: Where you go is constantly adapted and modified according to what you like and don’t like. The result is custom made surfing, good stuff. And them came video.

StumbleUpon is approaching 1.6 million users, most are fans. Although I have had my reservations. Now they are sure to add more to this number with the addition of video. You can log into the video page using your StumbleUpon log-in. Logging in means that your history is remembered just like with the original and the results get more in tune with your taste over the time you use the service. Although you do not have to log in to use the service, once you clear your cookies your results are reset.

The videos are sourced from YouTube and Google Video and I am sure that more services will follow. You can choose from different “channels” ranging from The Arts to Video Games. Watch a video and see which other users liked it as well, plus you can watch from their favourite videos as well. Can’t remember a great video that you watched? Have a look at your own history; what you have watched and if you liked it or not. There are options to share a video and send it to someone straight from the page. In my opinion there should a link that you can cut and paste into whatever communication that you wish to use, such as Instant Messaging.

The other thing that shines with StumbleUpon Video is the fact that you stop moving the mouse, everything but the video showing dims down giving you that “Cinema” feeling. Tops, I can’t wait to try it out tonight… That’s the kid in me. Nice touch though and attention to detail. There are no ads no commercials (so far). The fact that you don’t have to go anywhere and great content is “pushed” to you is the best thing of all. All making for a great user experience.

I agree with //engtech that to go to Google Video and YouTube is tedious in so much as the signal to noise ratio is way to high. Meaning that you have to sift through hours of rubbish to find gems. That has been much more the case as time goes on, if I ever see two teenage girls lip-syncing some crappy song again I’ll scream. With StumbleUpon Video that is hopefully a thing of the past. This is the cream of the crop from YouTube and Google Video in one place and not only that; as you watch and rate it, it gets better!

This is a sure winner. Video is the hottest thing on the Internet right now. People want this type of experience. Users like me avoid YouTube for all the rubbish but this makes it worthwhile and I am sure that my usage is going to go up because of it. The best ways to watch on-line video to date.

StubbleUpon Video Screenshot

Torrents! Torrent Search Mash-up

I found a search engine yesterday that is the latest offering from FreshMash featuring a torrent search engine powered by TRYANT and Yahoo!

Torrents! is a mash-up between TRYNT, an API developer and Yahoo! Using it means that you combine searching for torrents and the powerful indexing of the Yahoo! search engine. Due to the nature of the content though I would be cautious as to where I went from there.

Torrent search engines and trackers usually maintain their own databases. They do this by either accepting user submissions or sending out bots and scrapers. Torrents! is different in that it accesses data that has been indexed by Yahoo! That means a powerful search engine for the torrents you want, as long as you don’t care where it comes from.

Search by topic or name of the media or file that you are wanting. Results are displayed as a list that contain a link to the site that has the torrent. It does not link directly to the torrent. This is where it gets a bit tricky. Because Torrents! uses the Yahoo! indexing it means that the torrent you get in the result could be on any site, good, bad or ugly. The way that I looked at this service was time consuming as every result I wanted to look at I passed through SiteAdvisor’s site details look-up. The “safe” sites that were in the results were mixed. Most I would not recommend anyone visit. One comment on SiteAdvisor in regards to one domain was:

“… If you are using Internet Explorer get out quick!”

Apart from another reason not to use IE I would not want to go there anyway, in addition to the fact that details of the torrent are probably available elsewhere.

Other features include a tag cloud of popular searches and that is about it, after all it is a search engine what more do you want.

In summary, Torrents! will more than likely get you the torrent that you were looking for. But I would be very cautious as to what I clicked on and take appropriate precautions. For me it is not worth it. I would recommend to stick to sites and services that you trust. Judge for yourself but you have been warned.

Torrents! Beta