New-age site seeing

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Sep 032008
 
Authors: Glen Pfeiffer, Ryan Gibbons

What do you do on the Internet? Research? Download music? Surf Facebook? There are a lot of marvelous services available, courtesy of the World Wide Web, and in case you haven’t heard of those that we are about to share with you, you might consider checking them out the next time you are waiting for that girl or guy to “poke” you back.

Google Street View

Chances are you’ve been on Google Maps before — it’s a comparable direction finder to Mapquest.com. But Google Street View is not your father’s search-for-the-nearest-restaurant tool (or, given the relative modernity of such sites, your older brother’s). Street View provides a complete 360-degree panoramic ground level photographic view of any location on any street in most major U.S. cities and many international cities. That’s right — you can probably find a picture of your house on the Web right now. Just go to www.google.com, click on “Maps,” search for a location, then click on the “Street View” option in the upper right-hand corner of the map, and then click on the location you searched for. Use your mouse to drag the panorama around, and click on the arrows to travel down streets.

For added fun, search the Web for “Google Street View Interesting Finds” and you will get some good links. Be prepared for pictures of crimes in progress, headless people (where two images blended together), giant pumpkins and images that just can’t be explained.

Pandora Internet

Radio

Did you ever wish you could listen to a radio station that never played a song you didn’t like?

One that was available 24/7 on any computer connected to the Internet? Well consider Pandora the answer to your prayers. Pandora is a revolutionary Internet radio service that lets you type in a favorite artist, song or composer and, within seconds, you can be listening to your selection as well as other bands or composers that have a similar musical style.

Pandora does this using the Music Genome Project – a sophisticated musical taxonomy eight years in the making, which allows Pandora to accurately match your selection with other similar artists and songs.

The genome has been built by a team of 50 musicologists, who have dedicated almost 30 minutes per song to classify each according to 400 different characteristics. This ensures that when you type in a band like the Spice Girls, you also get really cool artists like Britney Spears or N*SYNC. You can even listen to Pandora on most new cellphones — including the iPhone — with either Sprint or AT&T.

Google Chrome

Currently, 98 percent of Web users utilize either Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari to browse the Internet. This Tuesday, Google entered the playing field with a Web browser of their own — Chrome.

Chrome will offer features such as a “Privacy Mode” that prevents all of your browsing history from being saved to your computer (a feature that became popular first on Safari) and a “speed-dial” function that brings up a list of your top nine most visited Web sites when you open a new window. The main benefit however, according to Google, is increased speed running Javascript-based Web applications.

And why do you care about that? Because, in the future, the Internet is expected to be much more heavily infused with such Javascript-based Web applications — think of these as programs that run via the Internet instead of on your computer itself.

For example, do you know how when you send a message on Facebook, it doesn’t open a new page anymore, just a box?

That’s because it’s not your average Web site anymore, it is like an application. And Chrome is designed to run these types of functions faster … once they are more common on the Web, that is. Meanwhile, go ahead and download the free beta version, currently only available for Windows at www.google.com/chrome.

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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