Flickr Hiring, Rumors of Demise Greatly Exagerated

Flickr posted on their blog yesterday that they are now in search of new employees.  This, of course, flies in the face of rumors that Yahoo is looking to shutter some their properties.  Names that have been bandied about have included Delicious, Yahoo Buzz, and even Flickr.  Clearly though, Flickr is alive and well and looking to move forward and grow.

Positions they are looking to fill include Software Engineers, Product Managers, Product Designers, and an Engineering Manager.  This is not only good news for Flickr’s large user base, but also for out-of-work computer industry types.

Flickr was the first mainstream photo sharing website and is still the king, despite the growing specter of Google’s Picasa.  The fact that they are looking to grow the business and improve their offerings will allow a large portion of the internet breath a huge sigh of relief.  We don’t know what they have in store for future platform updates, but this latest post is a good sign that updates are in the works.

Cool Music Sites You May Not Know

Being a big fan of music I seek out sites that let me sample, experiment and just plain play around with all sorts of music.  And, having an HTPC that feeds audio though my Yamaha A/V Receiver, I am very anxious to find the best music online.

You are all probably familiar with the big names such as Pandora, Last.FM, Slacker, Live 365 and a few others.  Here are a few you may not have heard of, but should check out.

Grooveshark

Grooveshark has actually been around for a little while now (they launched in 2007), and I have been using it off and on for some time, but it seems to be getting traction lately.  It’s an online streaming service that allows you play a song, but not download it.  They do have license deals in place with some major labels such as EMI.

mSpot

mSpot is a cool new web site/software program that allows you to upload your music to their cloud and then listen anywhere on any PC, Mac, or mobile device.  It works with all major web browsers, and automatically updates your collections and playlists across all devices as well.  You will have to install their uploader program which will immediately begin uploading your playlists and most recently listened to music, but then will allow you to choose what is uploaded next.

MixPod

MixPod is a music service under the MySpace umbrella.  Like Grooveshark, it’s a streaming only service – no downloads or uploads.  You can choose songs and add them to a playlist and then save the playlist.  You can have multiple playlists available anytime so that you can play whatever you’re in the mood for.  Saving playlists requires you to sign up for a free account, but that’s a small price for the convenience.

Some Companies Still Don’t Get “Online”

When it comes to web technology there are still some companies that are back in the 1980’s.  Okay, I know, there was no web in the 80’s, but there might as well be no web today for those certain companies.  I had the misfortune of dealing with two of them this evening.

It all began when I stopped to get gas at a Flying J on my way home from work.  It’s a station I frequent for two reasons –  low prices and proximity (a few miles away) to my house.  As always, after swiping my debit card at the pump, I was prompted to either swipe my Rewards Card or press Enter.  And, again as always, I thought “I really need to get a Rewards Card and get the discounted prices”.

The difference today was that, when I arrived home, I actually remembered and went to their web site to request a card.  And that is where this story takes a turn for the outdated.

After logging onto their website (and knowing what I do now I am surprised that either company in question even has one) I located the link for the Rewards Card.  A nice page explained the benefits which, based on my habits, would save about $0.20 per gallon on my costs.  However, there was no “Apply” link.  I tried several approaches to this problem without luck.  I searched the site and found a page that contained an “Apply” link, but, when I clicked it I receive an error.  I was using Firefox, so I opened IE and tried again, but got the same error.

Frustrated, I called Customer Service.  An nice rep informed me that they no longer did this because they had merged with Pilot and Pilot now handled it.  “So, I need to go to their site?”.  “Yes”.

So, they thought letting users get an error message when clicking on “Apply Now” was tantamount to letting them know that the service was no longer offered through Flying J?  And we could just ascertain, somehow, that they had merged with Pilot and that that Pilot now offered the service?!

Okay.  I went to Pilot’s website.  Here, though, I can find no link to apply, even with a site search.  So now I call Pilot customer service.  I am informed that they do not offer an online application, but that I can pick up an app at any Flying J or Pilot location.

Really?!  No way to apply online?  No link from one site to the other, after the merger, to let users know where to go?  Just let them get an error message instead?  I don’t think I have encountered this kind of online ineptitude since the 90’s.  To be fair, both offer great prices at the pump and both had very friendly customer service reps.  But maybe they could wake up to current technology and learn how the modern web works.  They need to find the last great innovation before the next one leapfrogs them again.

Some of the Lesser Known Internet Video Sources

Since I cut the cable (well, actually the satellite) recently, I have prided myself on finding things to watch (legally) online.  This has lead to something of a quest for bookmarks to add to my Media Center PC.  I also thought that showing what I have found might be of interest to others thinking of doing the same thing.  Although, I must admit, when football season rolls around I WILL be reconnecting (C’mon you MUST have noticed my Firefox theme in the screenshots).

Everyone is familiar with most of the major sources for online video – You Tube, Hulu, Netflix and all of the network sites such as ABC and Comedy Central.  But there are many more sites on the web that fly under the radar of most surfers.  So, I thought I’d take you on a quick tour of three  that I have found.

Crackle


Crackle is Sony Pictures’ website.  They have many full-length movies, as well as clips of others.  There are also various full-length TV episodes and even some web “originals”.  The video quality is excellent and there is a full-screen option.

Clicker


Clicker also contains Movies, TV shows and Web Originals as well as throwing in music videos.  To borrow from their own words:

“Clicker is the complete guide to Internet Television. Our mission is to make it simple for you to find the right show, right now. Classic Cinema Online.”

Again, video quality is excellent and full-screen is available.

Classic Cinema Online


Classic Cinema Online is, honestly, not really my cup of tea.  But, there are many of you out there who love the old classic movies and I didn’t want to leave anyone out in this first installment of “TV without the cable”.

This site has hundreds of the old classic movies.  Many of the best ones, actually.  It even includes silent films.  There is supposedly chat, so you can talk to to other people while watching the same movie.  But, I can’t say I have tried, so I will leave that up to you.

Hope everyone found a site here they like, and please post your own finds in the comments.  I am always looking for new sources.