Author Archive

Songbird Developer Preview

February 18, 2007

The developers who built WinAmp have released a preview of their newest creation: Songbird. Unlike WinAmp, which ran only on Windows systems and was primarily a media player, Songbird is cross platform and allows music lovers to search for music posted on the millions of blogs on the Internet. It’s also a cataloging tool like iTunes, so you can store the tracks you find on your hard drive. I have only begun to use Songbird, but the amount of great, free music on the web is astounding. If you are bored with commercial music you will find a rich window into the free music world with Songbird.

November 3, 2006

LibraryThing is a social networking site for book collectors and bibliophiles. Once you open your free account (which requires divulging no personal data), you can catalog two hundred books for free. This process is so easy and fun that you could fill your free account in an afternoon. LibraryThing has a powerful search engine that is built on top of the Z39.50 protocol, which is an international search standard used by libraries and large retailers like Amazon. allows you to search from over sixty libraries, so no matter how obscure your title, you are likely to find it.

LibraryThing is more than just a book catalog. Once you find your title and optionally tag and rate it, LibraryThing will alert you to others in the system that own the same book. It will also recommend books to you based on matching your titles and tags with those of other users. Also, you can write your own review of any title, as well discuss books with other users, in complete anonymity.

For a lifetime membership and the ability to catalog an infinite number of books, LibraryThing charges individuals $25.00; a yearly membership costs $10.00.

DevonThink Professional 1.2

October 21, 2006

An old acquaintance from my days at The University of Chicago recommended this product. On the strength of his review, I decided to give this product a try. DevonThink is a document management system for the Macintosh platform. In plain terms, it is an electronic filing cabinet for electronic documents. Anyone who has done any kind of research on the Internet will understand the utility of document management. Search engines generate voluminous lists of data, and the act of clicking hyperlinks creates electronic paper trails faster than most of us can take notes on what we have found. What is needed for serious research on the internet are tools that help us to understand the data that we have collected, and DevonThink is an excellent tool.