Friday, March 28, 2014

Two Nifty Online Tools: A Stopwatch and a Random Number Generator

HELPFUL TOOLS DEPT.

The internet has created a whole new language. I remember the first time I heard the word app being bandied about at a conference in L.A. Everyone knew what it meant so I just watched and listened. Turns out I knew what apps were from the early days of my first Mac in '87. People passed around discs with shareware on them and in this manner programmers could share what they were doing, little apps that accomplished sometimes entertaining, sometimes meaningful, and often meaningless things. We've gotten so sophisticated today that we now have over one million apps in Apple's App Store.

The two items I wanted to share here may or not be apps in the online store, but they seemed like the kind of thing that couple be. I have been using these two websites for years, long before smartphones became ubiquitous. I have found each of them useful and you might, too.

Online Stopwatch

You don't even have to bookmark this page. Google Online Stopwatch and it's always right there at the top of the first page. This is a remarkably useful tool with all kinds of applications. I primarily use it for timing the length of copy when writing radio commercials, or for timing the length of a story or speech in public speaking. All you do is hit start, start reading aloud your spiel, and then look at the stopwatch when you finish. I've been frequently called upon to write 10 or 15 second public service announcements over the years, and there's no better way to hit your target than with a stopwatch.

Of course you can use it to time other things as well, such as how long it takes to write a morning blog entry. Or how long it takes to run out to the road to grab the newspaper. Or a ten minute routine for open mic comedy night at Dubh Linn's Irish Brew Pub.

Random Number Generator

Here's another free tool that I have used extensively over the years. You'd be surprised how often you need a random number. I've used this website to select dealers to work events when more than one throws his hat in the ring. It's a great way to select the winner in a drawing. Maybe you have been stumped on what you want to write about for a paper that's due. You have four topics and feel indifferent as to what is important. Make a list and use the random number generator.

One could probably even make a list of kind things to do and use this app to truly do a random act of kindness each day.

There's also a random coin flipper so that you can decide who goes first in a game of two. But wait, get this.... You can flip a coin from any period of time or country. Right now I just flipped a
Maximinus - Bronze/Silver Tetradrachm from the Roman Empire. You can flip Irish coins, a Brazillian Real, Euros, a whole host of U.S. coins and even Todd Redden's Decision Maker Coin. Can't decide which coin to flip? Make a list on a spreadsheet and use the random number generator.

Do you have any favorite online tools like this that you use from time to time? I mean, besides Google.

Meantime, life goes on.... all around you. Enjoy your weekend while you can.


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