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Member since April 2007

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About Me

I am interested in the development of new technologies and how they can benefit society.

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I have a background in computer science, business, and internet technologies.

Interests

museums, music, movies (in no particular order)

66 Reviews by Michael

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Vwho.net

Vwho.net

3/27/11
Neat new site that allows users to search for videos of any television show on the internet and plays them back (but in no particular order). The interface is minimalist and mimics that of an old-school television set. This may be insufficient for those looking for a particular video or used to more controls during video playback. But if you don't mind not knowing what you're watching, how long the clip is, and what's coming next, you may find the simplicity refreshing.

The main problem is that the site runs really slow, presumably because it is pulling the videos from computers all over the world. Hopefully over time the search, loading, and playback will improve so the site can attract a more widespread following.
Timbuk2

Timbuk2

4/11/18
I probably wouldn't bring my bag to a formal business meeting, but it's a great looking everyday bag to use at cafes and the office. I've had mine for 6 years already and it still feels like new. It's definitely more durable than any other bag I've owned in the past. It just reeks of coffee from all the time it has spent in the coffee shop!
TaxACT

TaxACT

5/11/10
I've been using this site to file my tax returns for six years and it keeps getting easier and easier to use Granted my taxes are pretty simple to begin with, but with TaxAct, I am able to reliably file both my federal and state taxes in under 30 minutes for just $18. There are no hidden charges and the interface is super easy to use.

Among the features I really like:
- automatic importing of information from your previous return, which basically fills out 90% of the return for you
- system of automated checks, flags, and alerts to catch any possible errors
- comparison of this year's returns with previous year's returns
- ability to print or save your forms via PDF
- ability to immediately file forms and pay taxes electronically

One thing to watch out for -- TaxAct partners with third parties to offer certain services, such as paying your taxes via credit card. If you choose to use those services, there are usually steep transaction costs which are not disclosed by either TaxAct or the partner. I find this borderline unethical, but believe it to be more the responsibility of the third party.

Overall, I've been very happy with TaxAct and will continue to use them in the future. I've actually seen the interface and features get better every year, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a convenient affordable online service to file their taxes.
Tristate Camera

Tristate Camera

1/22/13
Ordered the Olympus Tough TG-1 camera from these guys and was very satisfied with the experience:

1) Price at Tri-State Camera was $60 less than what it was being offered for on Amazon. I usually purchase from Amazon because of their Prime 2-day shipping, but even after selecting the 2-day air option from Tri-State, I was saving a lot of money.

2) I needed the camera before going on vacation and because I had ordered it right before MLK weekend, I wasn't sure I was going to receive it in time. I called them up and found out that, sure enough, it was going to get there one day too late. However, the manager I spoke to, Al, told me he would overnight it for no extra cost and personally guaranteed that I would get it in time.

I got the camera as promised right before my trip, in perfect condition. You just don't get service like that anymore these days from most online retailers. I highly recommend these guys and look forward to buying more stuff from them. You just can't beat the price and the customer service at Tri-State Camera.
BadassJewelry

BadassJewelry

6/7/10
I was hanging out with a good friend of mine the other day and noticed some really bad ass rings on her hands. They were silver and black, very large, in a really exotic design. I asked her where she got them and she said three words: Bad Ass Jewelry. Enough said -- check it out. They sell everything including necklaces, pendants, bracelets, and earrings for both guys and girls. Really neat, edgy stuff!
Gratefulness.org

Gratefulness.org

6/9/10
I wouldn't consider myself a very spiritual person, but I do enjoy spending time on this site. Gratefulness.org promotes the ethics of grateful living and uses it to inspire not only personal growth, but positive changes across the world. I have sent many friends to this website when they are feeling overwhelmed or depressed. They have all been surprised by what just a few minutes of reflection can do.

I find the articles in the practices section particularly well written and deeply impacting. It's amazing how reading about and developing an appreciation for something as simple as water can really change your perspective and affect your mood for the rest of the day -- http://www.gratefulness.org/p/index.htm

Can living a more grateful life really change the world? I'm not sure, but I do believe we will all be happier individuals if we learn to better appreciate the things we so easily take for granted in our lives today.
The Yes Men

The Yes Men

6/18/10
This is the official site of the Yes Men, the two activists (Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno), who play pranks on corporate behemoths to help raise awareness of important social issues and social responsibility. You can read all about their high-profile hijinks on the site and they are absolutely hilarious.

My favorite is where Bichlbaum poses as a representative from the National Petroleum Council at Canada's largest oil conference and proposes in his keynote speech to make oil out of the humans who died as a result of their industry in the first place. http://theyesmen.org/hijinks/vivoleum

The site has recently been redesigned and now, in addition to links to their books and movies, includes a frequently updated blog and the new Yes Lab, which helps others perform similar activism-focused pranks on their own. It's good to see them leveraging new media to spread their ideas and increase their influence.

This is a great site to support the Yes Men, learn about the evils of corporate greed, become more active in social issues, or just have a good laugh.
Musicovery

Musicovery

7/31/10
Musicovery is a really fun and neat music discovery site which stands out because of its innovative interface. The site separates its music into "Mood" music and "Dance" music. To help figure out what type of music you want to hear, it presents a grid with two axes which represent two musical attributes. For "Dance" music, the axes are Dance and Tempo. For "Mood" music, the axes are (Dark -> Positive) and (Calm -> Energetic). You can click anywhere on the axes to get the perfect blend of both attributes. For a good time, try alternating between Dark and Calm to Positive and Energetic.

I really like the eclectic assortment of music this site plays for you. Most other music discovery sites seem to stick to a particular genre, but with Musicovery, you will get George Gershwin right before James Brown, simply because you wanted happy, energetic music. Brilliant! For the purists, there are also controls to filter the music by genre and decade.
Carbonite

Carbonite

2/5/11
I just went through the free trial of Carbonite to see if it was any good compared to my current online backup service, Mozy. Online storage and online backup solutions have come a long way over the past few years and there are a lot of new players in the field. So when Mozy decided to up their prices, I started looking for a new alternative.

The interface for the Carbonite product is pretty neat -- it's very simple and it puts a little icon on each folder or file to tell whether it is backed up, waiting to be backed up, or not set to be backed up. I also like their scheduling options, which lets you set as many scheduling rules as you want. Lastly, this is one of the few online backup services that still supports unlimited storage.

What I don't like about Carbonite is the fact that it will not back up certain types of files. Who are they to tell me which files can and can not be backed up? If I want to back up some random system file on my computer, why can't I? In my opinion, an online backup solution should as closely mimic using an external hard drive as possible, but just be more secure. Otherwise, what's the point and why should I spend so much more money? (You can get a terabyte of external storage for roughly the same price as one year of online storage.)

Another issue is that for the free trial, it does not automatically back up your music files. So I will have to repeat the same days-long tortuous process once I actually sign up for the service. Finally the deal breaker -- in order for Carbonite to back up video files, you have to manually select them one by one. Are you kidding me? I have a ton of tiny video files spread across a bunch of different folders, and that would take me hours. I guess I'll keep looking for another service...
Quickish.com

Quickish

3/3/11
This is an interesting-ish site which aggregates trending sports topics and news into a single feed. I still enjoy going directly to espn.com to browse news articles, but Quickish is a great place to quickly get the most current sports headlines across the web.

I like the minimalist interface which makes it easy to browse, but still provides interesting contextual excerpts. But the most value comes from the fact that it aggregates content from many different sources and is partially curated by editors in (almost) real-time. Also, it's really neat to browse a particular topic of interest, since you get a good variety of headlines and differing viewpoints.

More customization would be a natural next step for a site like this, but for the general sports fan, this is a great resource. I'll be checking it frequently before the Madness begins and before my next draft.
ElderGadget

ElderGadget

4/7/11
A website that discusses technology for baby boomers seems like a great idea, but ElderGadget falls well short of executing on that vision. I am assuming that this site is modeled after engadget, based on its name and layout, but after a few minutes browsing the site, I was very disappointed by the quality of the content and the depth of the reviews. Most of the product reviews simply list out specs and product features, with no commentary on how it might be particularly well suited for seniors. The site also offers brain games and cartoons for the elderly, but I find them a bit patronizing. Perhaps the most useful features are the how-to guides which explain things like getting on to the internet or changing your computer settings. All-in-all, a very poorly designed website which doesn't do a good job of truly catering to the audience for which it was made.
Mayhem.cbssports

Mayhem.cbssports

3/17/12
Simply the best place to manage your NCAA tournament brackets. The interface has improved greatly over the past few years, making it easier now than ever to fill in and track your picks. When filling out your bracket, the site allows you to pre-populate your choices with expert picks, public consensus picks, or any of your previously completed brackets. It literally takes about 5 seconds and two clicks to get a respectable bracket up and running.

Beyond these features, I've found this site to have the quickest updates, best standings board, most customizable options for managers, and overall the cleanest interface. Highly recommended for a site you'll be glued to everyday for the last three weeks of march.
GoFraudMe

GoFraudMe

2/15/18
This is a neat site that reports on fake and fraudulent campaigns on GoFundMe. With the rising popularity of crowdfunding, charitable sites like GoFundMe have become the easiest place to contribute to a cause. But scammers have also taken advantage of these platforms to steal money from good samaritans through fake campaigns. GoFraudMe monitors reports of fraudulent campaigns from social media, local sources and direct donor reports, and then publishes them for everyone to see. It's a great way to double check a campaign before making a donation.
The DJ List

The DJ List

7/11/07
the best list for electronic music - this site is the best place to look at who's hot on the dj charts. i am a big trance fan and i think it's great that year in and year out, the trance djs top the list. will anybody unseat the dutch masters?

i am also a house fan, so i appreciate the presence of sasha. another favorite of mine is his protege, james zabiela.

anybody out there know of any other good dj lists?
TMZ

TMZ

7/13/07
best celebrity gossip site! - always has the most recent breaking news that no other news site can get! this site is as good as it gets... i love it!
1-800-Flowers

1-800-Flowers

5/11/10
Customer service is top notch -- I found out that my mother was out of town for Mother's Day and called them up the day before to see if I could switch the order. I was able to switch the delivery date to the following week for no extra charge (even though I was using a discounted delivery rate for the holiday). Customer service representative was very friendly and accommodating.

One caveat -- prices are a bit hefty, especially when compared to going direct to local florists. But they do deliver on what they promise and the flowers have always turned out great in my experience.
Mugasha

Mugasha

5/24/10
I usually listen to Digitally Imported, but Mugasha is what I stream at work now. Mugasha has put together a very impressive set collection from most of the top DJs (Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Tiesto, etc.) The interface is great -- the player breaks up the sets into individual tracks so you can see the title and the artist of each song, and also jump around. For each track, it shows how many people have listened to it and how many people liked it. And if you find one you really like, Mugasha makes it really easy to share it with your friends or purchase it on iTunes.

I do have two small complaints about the site. First, the collection is very trance-heavy. There isn't much progressive house yet, so you'll be disappointed if you're looking for your favorite Sasha or Digweed tracks. Second, the music player is embedded into the website, like Pandora, so you have to keep the browser / webpage open for the music to continue streaming. If you forget and start browing around, your song gets cut off. By contrast, Digitally Imported allows you to stream directly to Windows Media Player or Winamp, so you're free to leave the website to do other things.

Aside from these minor issues, the best and most important thing about Mugasha is the music. Two words: Tiesto ClubLife. Enjoy!
Autocompleteme

Autocompleteme

5/3/10
Most people are already aware of Google's auto complete feature, which tries to guess what someone is searching for based on aggregate data from previous searches. But what most people don't realize is how useful the feature is for conducting societal research.

For example, to see what guys most want from their girlfriends, just type in "how do i get my girlfriend to" and see what pops up. Change "girlfriend" to "boyfriend" to compare the results -- the differences are both hilarious and slightly depressing.

AutoCompleteMe is a site dedicated entirely to the auto complete feature, based mostly on what interesting suggestions ordinary people stumble upon while performing their own searches. What turns up is an entertaining and sometimes insightful look into the zeitgeist and eccentricities of today's society.
Nicholas Kristof Blog

Nicholas Kristof Blog

6/7/10
This is one of the few New York Times blogs I find worth reading. Nicholas Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who cares more deeply about social issues than any other journalist I can think of. Having traveled extensively and lived all over the world, he has developed a profoundly unique understanding of the world and human life. His blog covers a wide range of development issues, including health, human rights, education, and civil war. This is a must read, if not for the reason of becoming more engaged / involved in some of the most pressing issues of our time, then at least for its ability to put the happenings of our own lives and the things we take for granted into their proper perspective.
Information is beautiful

Information is beautiful

7/31/10
Great site for those interested in the art of presenting visual data in a way that is interesting, memorable, and visually appealing. Maintained by David McCandless, an "information designer", this is a site dedicated to the latest and greatest ways to present data. And while it features a steady stream of masterful infographics from all around the internet, my favorite thing about the site is the fascinating bits of random knowledge you can learn from just a few seconds of browsing around.

Michael Has Earned 415 Votes

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Should-Use-A- D. thanked you for your review of WikiLeaks

“Solid Points.”

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