Here are a couple of cool things that have caught my eye over the last few weeks and that I've been waiting to squeeze in somewhere.
First, there's a neat Windows application for your downtime called Radiotracker that I've had my sweaty hands on for a couple of months. Radiotracker finds music from about 70,000 artists divided into over 80 genres on 20,000 Internet radio stations and saves songs as individual MP3 files.
You can specify what you're looking for in detail and the company, RapidSolution Software AG, claims the average time required to fulfill a request is 25 seconds (I must have weird tastes because most of my requests take much longer than 25 seconds).
Radiotracker also finds and records podcasts, plays your music, burns CDs and a lot more. Exactly what the likes of the RIAA might think about the legality of what the product does is an interesting (and unresolved) issue. RadioTracker Premium, which includes a ringtone editor, is way cool at US$27.
There are also Platinum and AudialsOne versions of Radiotracker, for $40 and $60 respectively. The Web site isn't completely clear on what the former adds, but the latter makes it possible to download music videos. I'll give Radiotracker Premium a score of 4.5 out of 5.
Next, we have a collection of Perl scripts for working with IMAP servers published by Rick Sanders.
These scripts can copy messages and mailboxes from one IMAP server to another, copy POP3 messages to an IMAP server, perform a mass migration of messages from one IMAP server to another for a set of users, move messages from one IMAP mailbox to another based on a set of rules, query an IMAP server for a list of features it supports, write IMAP messages to local files, ping an IMAP server, synchronize two IMAP accounts, copy messages from an IMAP server to Mbox format, copy messages from Mbox format to an IMAP server, synchronize mbx and IMAP accounts, purge an IMAP mailbox, move messages marked "deleted" to trash mailbox, copy Mozilla messages to an IMAP server, and delete duplicate IMAP messages. Whew.
These scripts are fantastically useful if you've moved your e-mail services over to Google's GMail like me because it is free and has really good spam filtering. The other allures of Gmail are that it's free, has lots of storage (7GB per user), supports POP3, it's free, supports SMTP, supports IMAP, it's free, supports SSL, makes searching amazingly fast, and it's free.
I have Gmail pickup messages via POP3 from my various domains (which includes gibbs.com) and I then handle my e-mail via the Gmail interface (which is a world class piece of Web engineering) or through Outlook on Windows or Apple's Mail under OS X or Thunderbird on either platform.
The beauty of this system is that if Gmail should become unavailable (which it does occasionally), I can always access my e-mail through my domain Webmail service. Gmail also gives me support for multiple clients on multiple OSes. And I can route my outgoing mail via Gmail, which means I have a searchable record of everything I send, I get filtering and searching without having to use my own processor cycles, and I can access the Gmail user interface from anywhere in the world, including devices such as the T-Mobile G1.
So, if you implement a system like this you'll want to move all of your e-mail from, say, Outlook, to Gmail. You can do this by connecting to GMail using IMAP and then simply dragging and dropping your local Outlook content over to the appropriate GMail folders.
While this works well enough it is very slow. Here's where Sanders' scripts are incredibly useful. You can upload entire mailboxes, download and archive mailboxes, and so on. Problem solved. I'll give Sanders' IMAP scripts 4.8 out of 5.