Favorite things, part the third

Aerolatte – This little gizmo is neither a sexual aid nor a hair removal device, though it looks like both. Warm some milk in the microwave then whip it with the Aerolatte and pour into coffee. Instant latte, no Starbucks or foaming machine. I don’t drink latte, but I find myself grabbing it just to stir in sugar. Automate everything!

Stair Basket – With house lots only 25 feet wide a lot of Chicago living happens on multiple levels. Add to that the amount of crap that accumulates and is dispersed around the place with two kids and you quickly find yourself piling stuff up on the stairs to remind you to take it up or down. Add in general clutziness and perhaps drunkenness and you have a real hazard. That’s where the stair basket comes in. Now you only have one large thing to break your ankle on as opposed to lots of little things.

Greasemonkey – I join many people in thinking this is the greatest Firefox extension ever. Basically it allows people to write small Javascripts that do some amazing things. My favorites include always providing a download link for embedded movies, stripping the margin crud from Boing Boing, and adding Netflix links to IMDB. But far and away my favorite Greasemonkey script is the Chicago Transit Authority hack of Google Maps. Now in addition to the street and satellite view you can switch to a CTA view that shows you where your address is on the subway grid. Wonderful.

Smarterchild – At work our internal chat client has about a half-dozen bots that can do your bidding for you (fetching addresses, monitoring feeds, etc.) so I was pleased to see this ability on the open interweb. I find myself using Smarterchild most often simply to pop up a reminder at a given time. Smarterchild is my friend.

Plaxo – I was initially very skeptical of this service. Storing all your contacts externally is just asking for trouble, in my opinion. But I am a convert now. Plaxo has a great interface, an online version (so you’re not stuck using Outlook), a phone synch option, and — this is important — it does not require your contacts to register with Plaxo to use it. I have reconnected with three or four people that I had lost touch with simply because of the one-to-many update requests you can manage with Plaxo. That alone is worth the cost. Which is $0.

See also: Faves I and Faves II