This site showcases the (mostly) digital work of Andrew DiFiore from both Virtual Arts Studios and answerYES Interactive as well as random thoughts and experimental projects too volatile to be contained anywhere else.

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    Cool Tool of the Month: Catalog Choice

    In honor of Earth Day, this month’s Cool Tool goes to Catalog Choice, a free online service that help consumers stop unwanted junk mail and help companies save money while respecting consumer choices. This, of course, helps Mother Earth by reducing unnecessary waste of natural resources.

    Simply create a free account and opt-out of thousands of catalogs and mailings all at once. It is not just catalogs, you can opt-out of coupons, credit card offers, even phone books. Catalog Choice monitors over 19 million opt-out requests since the site launched in 2007 and according to the organization’s president Chuck Teller 90-95 percent of catalog companies honor the opt-out requests immediately. This is good news, given an estimated 19 billion catalogs are mailed out each year (that’s 53 millions trees to you and me).

    For $20 a year, you can join Catalog Choice ‘s Premium Unlisting Service which removes your personal information from third-party marketing lists and personal search services.

    So if you are getting way too much clutter in your mailbox, Catalog Choice may be the Cool Tool for you.

    Cool Tool of the Month: Pandora

    If work is my cerebral connection to the world then music is my emotional connection. Music is always playing in the background while I’m working and since I pretty much work all the time, I hear a lot of music (it’s playing now).

    Though my tastes vary wildly from staccato blues to ska punk, I’m a big fan of alternative rock. I hate Top 40 stations. I have no sympathy for the RIAA or the pitiful state of the American music industry. In my opinion, they are to blame for their own undoing when they decided to package musicians to feed only the lowest common denominator. When you view art (or any form of human expression) solely through the narrow lens of the bottom line, creativity and diversity are inevitably sacrificed.

    Before discovering this month’s Cool Tool, I was hooked on XM Satellite Radio (I got to listen for free since my brother was a reseller). Digital sound, commercial-free, lots of variety, I would almost be willing to pay if not for the fear that I would be encouraging radio to go the way of cable television. When my brother stopped selling XM, I lost my radio. But as fate would have it, Pandora came of age. It was love at first sound.

    Pandora is what Internet Radio should be. Hell, it is what radio should be!

    The brainchild of Tim Westergren who had the idea of a musical taxonomy initiated on a single artist or song. He called it The Music Genome Project. A personalized radio station that “learns” from the listener’s feedback. It is hard to imagine most readers of this blog have not heard of Pandora by now but if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? It is free and available on just about every device out there (one of the most downloaded apps). While you’re on their site, check out answerYES Radio.

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    Cool Tool of the Month: TweetDeck

    A while back on the B2B Marketing Posse blog I wrote about using TweetDeck  (along with Google Alerts) for managing your online reputation (still a good idea by the way) but this Cool Tool does a lot more that just that. It is a social media dashboard that helps manage your online social channels (despite the name, this includes Twitter, Facebook, and others). You can schedule tweets and status updates, trigger email alerts, and organize “life streams” in order of importance so you can easily separate the wheat from the chaff. TweetDeck is available as both a free desktop application and a mobile app.

    At the time of this post, it appears that Twitter is in a bidding war for TweetDeck with UberMedia, a leading developer of popular Twitter API-based apps like Twidroyd.

    {Ed. Note 5/24/11: Twitter acquired TweetDeck for $40 million in a mix of stock and cash, making its creator Iain Dodsworth an instant millionaire.}

    {Ed. Note 12/8/11:  A new “rebranded” TweetDeck was released, dropping support for LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Foursquare and MySpace. TweetDeck switched from using Adobe AIR to native OS for desktops and open-source WebKit for browsers (e.g. Chrome and Safari).}

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