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Some new things to check out

Microsoft’s Live.com — users can customize content and add things like weather, horoscopes, hotmail, blog feeds and news…quite similar to My Yahoo. My initial thoughts—the good things that make this service stick out: the ability to include RSS feeds as part of the page and the ability for software developers to develop “gadgets” for use on these pages. What I don’t like: the layout. While it’s cool to choose 2-column vs. 3 column vs. 4 columns, Microsoft has decided to make each of the columns be spaced evenly, which I don’t think works well for the eye and the user. At least one column should be wider than the others so it can be the center of attention with other columns being more side information. As a result, the even sized columns makes the page seem too busy for me. I also didn’t find that it did a good job of maintaining my content and settings when I went to another computer. I tested this out at work and then went home…and found the page to be different from when I had set it at work (i.e. something as simple as setting up my Weather cities was gone). Given–this is all in beta mode. It’ll be interesting to see if this takes off.

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. The basic premise — Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it. This web service solves the problem of building applications that until now have not worked well because they lack human intelligence. Humans are more effective at solving certain problems over computers such as finding the pizza in the picture. This Beta program just launched and initially has been filled with requests made by, of course, Amazon.com. Primarily, the requests have been to correct A9.com Yellow Page photos and to create product descriptions for the new Automotive Parts store—both things that are not easily generated by a computer. I find this concept extremely fascinating and can’t wait to see how this takes off. I already made a whopping 33 cents from correcting a few photos. Neat. Now, hopefully some higher paying tasks will come in the queue that I can do (unfortunately, I’m not good at describing automotive parts)

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