Family Websites and Services I’ll Use In 2007
Inspired by TechCrunch’s list of “Web 2.0 Companies I Couldn’t Live Without“, I decided to come up with my own list of the services, products and websites I predict I’ll use the most this year.
You know what would make me even happier? If you had your own predictions you could share in the comments I would be thrilled because productivity is a major theme of my year and I can use all the help I can get.
I always liked Flickr, I liked the ease of uploading my images there and the ease of browsing other’s pictures. I liked how I could share my images with friends and family and read their comments. I liked using their ‘notes’ to make a little boy in my son’s preschool class appear to drop the F-word. (Advice: Don’t do this!) But Flickr and I could only be ‘friends’ because I couldn’t make prints there so I had to ‘see other people’. Last year that all changed and Flickr and I are going exclusive this year.
I’ve resolved to keep up with my yearly family albums (which are all blank after 2004 when I bought my first digital camera) and also print and display more of my shots around the house, replacing the shots which have been displayed for 5-8 years. It’s as though we stopped being visible as a family once the kids stopped crawling and we went digital. Since I already upload my full size images to Flickr, starting now I’m ordering images for my albums once a month. I’ll also use Quoop to make special albums of events, like my trip to Amsterdam and the cabin up north last year.
Netflix isn’t new, but it’s essential for me because I have a disorder. I am incapable of driving 2 blocks west and giving back my movie rentals on time. Hollywood Video saw a major decrease in revenue the first year The Summers joined Netflix simply because they lost about $532K in late fees from my family alone. I’m sure there were graphs and board room discussions with executives frantically asking,”What’s happening to our Michigan market!?”
With our $17.99 a month membership, we get three videos at a time and last year Netflix allowed us to allocate one dvd to each member of our family. This is nice because sometimes our queue would get out of order and we’d have three Disney movies featuring Lindsay Lohan at once (kids) and there’s nothing like sitting down to choose between three dvds you’d rather use as coasters than watch.
Honorable Wishful Thinking Mention: I’d give up Netflix for Tivo any day. My husband disagrees.
Trulia, Zillow and Family Watchdog
I had to make this entire section encompass all my real estate obsession, because as my husband put it, “This is not the “Things I’m Driving Myself (And Everyone Around Me) Crazy With In 2007″ list.” Fine. But it’s true we’re getting ready to sell our house, which is not perfect, in an incredible buyer’s market. So I’ve been frantically using Trulia’s real estate search engine to find houses up for sale. I like Trulia because it maps out almost all the properties, and often links to more pictures than Realtor.com, so I don’t have to drive my realtor insane with MLS numbers to look up for me from now until our house finally sells.
Zillow is the other real estate site I’ve had bookmarked for a year. Zillow let’s me see how much a house sold for last, how much comparable homes in the area are going for and I can also track the rough value of my home. This allows me to kick myself several times a month for not insisting we move a year ago when property values were about 40% higher. Thank You, Struggling Automotive Industry!
Then, if we ever do sell our home (positive thinking), I’ll be plugging the address of any homes we look at into Family Watchdog to check for sex offenders living nearby. I like this site over my state’s public registry site because it plots out the location of offenders and clearly labels their crimes as against children or not. I know there are a few ways of looking at the sex offender registries and I know sex offenders have to live somewhere once they’ve served their time. I just don’t really want to attend a neighborhood block party with a child rapist. I mean, if I can avoid it.
United States Postal Service
The post office in my town is really busy and there’s always a homeless guy outside screaming four letter insults at people as they enter the building. I don’t mind it if I’m alone but I’m not really ready to explain to Max what a “B*t*ch *ss Ho M*ther F#c*er” is. I know, that’s so suburban of me.
So I use the Post Office site to order stamps and to print postage for packages I need to send (get yourself a scale….$20 on Ebay). All your postage needs without the colorful language!
Honorable Mention: If I procrastinate ordering and have mail to send, some banks offer stamps at their ATMs.
Contrary to the evidence of our dinner table for most of the last year, I don’t actually want to feed my kids pasta every night for dinner. I’ve been trying, for almost five years, to come up with 7-10 meals which make up my repetoire so that I can make them without reading a recipe and without forgetting any ingredients at the market.
I think I’m missing that gene because I still don’t have a handful of meals I can prepare. For as little as $4 a month, More Thyme will help you plan your meals each week. Using your own recipes or theirs, you can easily fill your calendar with menus and let them give you a shopping list. Unofficial goal: make good food for my family more often than not (pasta with butter is not a complete dinner).
Fishing For Deals
I’m afraid to tell you about this site I use pretty much every day, because you may take all the good deals from me and I can’t have that. Fishing For Deals has a message board called ‘Catch of the Day’ where members share the deals they find around the web.
It’s true, there’s often some unappealing deals to pass over (“Great Sale On Kitty Cat Airbrushed Sweatshirts Today!”), but I often find bargains I would never have caught on my own. For example, the Radio Flyer ‘retro rider’ I picked up a few years ago for $10 shipped.
Amazon Prime has been buzzing around my peripheral vision for a few months now so I decided to look into it. We decided to take the plunge when I realized I hate going to the mall and I also hate paying outrageous shipping. For just over $5 a month (for 15 months), you get free unlimited express shipping from Amazon.
This will work out nicely for me as we shop for birthday parties. The kids get distracted by their own ‘wants’ and are very often totally overwhelmed by all the choices in the toy aisle. I don’t want to push them to make a decision but around hour two, it’s time to take the plunge. Online shopping means no toy store and a specific set of choices and so, no tears.
My Public Library’s Website
The last service I can not live without is my local library’s online catalog. I use it every time someone tells me about a book I must read or after I’ve browsed at the bookstore and found something I’d like to read in depth. Occasionally there’s a book I love so much I must have a copy for myself, but more often I’m only going to read a book once and since I hate clutter, why not just borrow it?
My library’s online catalog is set up remarkably like any bookstore’s website. You find your title (at any library in the over 100 member network), add it to your cart and request a hold. It’s delivered to your local library in 2-3 days where you pick it up. It couldn’t be easier. Well, except if it was like Netflix delivering the books to my door and not charging me late fees. Maybe in 2008!
What are the services, online and otherwise, you think you’ll be using this year? (And come back for products and websites I won’t be able to live without in 2007.)