In theory, the internet is one giant international network. But if you live in Canada, you know about the many barriers that exist. Compare the internet radio offerings in Canada to elsewhere. Spotify is taking Britain by storm, for example, but isn't available at all in North America. Pandora has entertained our neighbours to the south for years but pulled out of Canada long ago. Last.fm users in Canada have to pay to listen to radio streams, and even then they don't get to enjoy toys like the iPhone or Xbox 360 apps available in the United States.
Web-based personalized Internet radio for iPhone/iPod Touch, Android, Blackberry $4.99/month subscription (30-day free trial) by Slacker Radio
But finally there's some good news for a change: Slacker Radio recently opened up shop in Canada, and with surprisingly few restrictions. Slacker charges a subscription fee, just like Last.fm, but in return offers service to a much larger array of devices, including mobile phones. So far, there's no official support for the Slacker-branded portable players or more esoteric devices like Sony Bravia TVs, but chances are few Canadians will care.
So what's it like to have personalized radio back in your life? Like most predictive services, Slacker is hit and miss, especially if you're trying to find new artists you don't already know-Slacker tends to pull you towards more popular artists. But the important thing is Pandora fans who've been holding out for the service's return finally have someplace to call home. Welcome to Canada, Slacker-hope you stay a while.
Free web-based to-do list tracker by swissmiss/Fictive Kin
If Apple has taught the tech world anything, it's that beautiful and simple sells a whole lot of merchandise. Where previously the emphasis was on more features, Apple gave consumers something different: only what you need, and nothing more. The minimalist, design-heavy direction isn't for everyone, especially if you're the type who'd rather their technology adapt to the way you work rather than the other way around. But plenty more people are happy with just having a simple, streamlined machine that doesn't get in the way too often.
TeuxDeux was born into a world of a thousand and one task managers. Glancing at a feature list, you'd think TeuxDeux was severely lacking compared to your Remember the Milks and your Google Calendars-no grouping tasklists, no way to set times on items, not even a way to advance back or forward more than a day at a time. But TeuxDeux isn't really aimed at the obsessive-compulsive types; that much is clear from the site's snarky attitude, evident in its tutorial video and frequently asked questions page.
Instead, TeuxDeux offers a basic to-do list manager that avoids complication for complication's sake. It also happens to be the prettiest tasklist manager you're likely to run into this year. TeuxDeux offers a simple five-day view, showing what you need to accomplish this week and what tasks you need to take care of "someday." Adding and crossing off tasks is as easy as pie, and generally the interface is unobtrusive and elegant. It would be nice to be able to advance more than a day at a time, but that feature is coming, along with an iPhone app. If you want to spend less time with your head in dialog boxes, TeuxDeux is the web-based task app for you.
Free screen capture/clipboard manager for Windows by BrandonZ and the ZScreen developer team
The computer is a general-purpose appliance that can be programmed to perform a wide assortment of tasks-everything from discovering new prime numbers to storing the precious recipe for Dad's world-famous oatmeal cookies. But for whatever reason, the same swiss-army-knife approach doesn't work very often for software. There are a ton of programs that claim to solve every problem you can think of, and then some, but all-in-one programs tend to be only marginally effective, hard to use and ugly as sin.
So the odds are already against ZScreen, a utility that's supposed to be a screenshot capture utility and an uploading utility and a language translator and, yes, a Twitter client-sort of. But it turns out that ZScreen's actually pretty good at all of those things. It has all the usual features of a screen capture utility like the ability to save a portion of the visible screen or an entire window as an image, as well as more esoteric features like watermarking.
But the really neat part of ZScreen is the clipboard upload feature. Depending on what you've copied to the clipboard, a quick keypress can send that material to pretty much any destination you want. Copy an image, for example, and you can send it to Photoshop for further editing or upload it to a hosting service like ImageShack or TwitPic. Text can be redirected to one of several pastebin services-useful for sharing snippets of programming code-and files can be automatically uploaded to an FTP server or file-sharing services like SendSpace.
The downside? The interface can be frustrating at times, like when trying to add your Twitter account details-or figuring out how to post an image to Twitter once you've authorized your account. But in terms of sheer functionality, it's hard to find a program that does as many things as competently as ZScreen does.