January 13, 2008

Mousetrap - 133

Identity Crisis
OpenID
Hell, my friend, is keeping track of IDs and passwords for every darn site you use. If you’re like me, you’ve got a loooong list and you’ve forgotten more of them than you can remember. It wasn’t for my browser storing passwords for me, I’d have no online social life to speak of. But here’s a solution. OpenID lets you wander around the web under one identity. Let’s say you have a WordPress ID, and Wordpress supports OpenID. You can then use that ID as your base, using it to sign in to other sites that support OpenID. What sites? The claim is ‘nearly ten-thousand’ as of this writing (there are a couple of directories the site links to, for reference). Worth checking out, if you’re part of the participatory web. And who isn’t, these days?

I dub thee..
Dot-o-mator
You know how all the good domain names are taken? And how tough it is, if you’re launching something new, to come up with a name for your service / mash-up / bit o’ self-indulgence that isn’t already taken? Well, that explains all those weird site names one comes across these days. And what this site does is generate domain names for you. You can feed it prefixes and/or suffixes (or pick from the ready-made lists) and the generator combines them for you and presents you with a list. If you like something it comes up with, you can check for availability right there. (The scary part is how many of them are already booked! Perhaps it’s not as tongue-in-cheek a site as I thought it was.) There are also useful tips for picking domain names. If that’s all too much work for you, try the Web 2.0 name generator for random names.

She says
Ultra Violet
A new(ish) blog that is pretty much described by it’s URL if not its name. It is a feminist blog, covering the issues and challenges that Indian women face today. Their About page says that the site ‘provides a place to explore and understand the ways in which young women in India are challenging, negotiating and transforming unequal power structures. It is also a space to celebrate women’s histories, wisdom, creativity, laughter and love for life.’ There have been some interesting debates up there, and the contributors list features some well-known writers and bloggers, so it’s worth your time to visit. The only thing is, they’re all women. One can’t but wonder, how come? Can’t a man be a feminist?

Who shall guard the guards?
Mission Safer India
The creation of former supercop Kiran Bedi, the site offers to step in if you have had trouble getting your complaints attended to by the police. It’s terribly badly written, and clumsily designed too, but if you wade through and try not to cringe too much, it’s a genuinely useful service. Just create an ID, and then you can fill in a complaint. The webmaster then makes sure your complaint is forwarded to the correct channels in the police hierarchy, though it’s up to you to then, with your printouts, to follow up on the matter. It deals solely with e-complaints, so no paper submissions will be dealt with. Now if only Ms Bedi would get someone to redo the site decently.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to http://o3.indiatimes.com/mousetrap for past columns, and to comment, or mail inthemousetrap@indiatimes.com. The writer blogs at http://zigzackly.blogspot.com.

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 13th January, 2008.

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