Programmable robots, online music, and more

Goodies from the Internet

YouTube is taking too much of my time. You know how it starts -- you watch one video and then get tempted by the list of similar clips. Before you know it, you've killed an hour watching dopey videos. (How many times can you watch skateboarding idiots land on their heads and have their buddies run up and say, "omygod, you okay, dude?") The big difference between you and me, though, is that I'm getting paid to do it.

I can't stop you from watching YouTube -- but I sure can make it easier. So this week I've got two freebies that help you download videos. I also have a weird music search site, videos of iRobot's new programmable robot in action, and yet more funny videos.

Slick tool: Save YouTube Videos

Every so often I'll bump into a YouTube video I like and want to view again. Instead of having to head back to my browser to view it, I use TubeMe and save it to my computer.

Just insert one or more links to the YouTube videos you want to save into TubeMe and the program saves the files to your hard drive.

There's no installation, and the program's free. Just download TubeMe onto your desktop (or into a folder) and double-click on the program's icon when you want to use it.

Ah, but if you're a Firefox user, you're probably saying, What about me? You can use TubeMe, too, or, if you'd like something slicker, try VideoDownloader . It's a Firefox extension that lets you download from over 60 video sites. [Thanks semilemon.]

Dig this: I know you like videos. So here are two you might get a kick out of. The first is an example of why you need to keep track of your cell phone. The next one is on the long side, but you have to admit: It's a marvelous and funny take on corporate help desks, upgrades, and tech support.

Search for music with your voice

Grab your microphone and hum a tune. It sounds like the start of a bad joke, but Midomi is a search engine that purports to find music by having you sing, hum, or, if you have the wherewithal, strum a guitar or blow into a trombone. You can also search by typing in the name of the song or artist, but that's oh-so-boring.

I started by clearing my throat and humming Dave Brubeck's "Take Five." The best Midomi could come up with was "House of Bourbon" and Madonna's version of "Santa Baby." I got no better results whistling the tune. I thought it might be a problem at my end, but whistling after drinking a Sierra Nevada didn't help, either.

I had better luck with "Amazing Grace," the song Midomi uses in its video demo. I found "Amazing Grace" along with a few others, including "The Restroom Door Said, 'Gentleman'" (nope, I'm not kidding) and "Put On a Happy Face" from Bye Bye Birdie. About the only tune they missed was the theme from "It's a Small World." (I'll bet you're stuck humming that now, too, right?)

Overall, it's way too much work, but the idea is certainly intriguing. If you're interested, here's the video showing Midomi working correctly.

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Steve Bass

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