Best Online Experiences of 2009

by francine Hardaway on December 21, 2009

I'm really too undisciplined to make a good top 10 list, but here I go anyway (I have no shame).  I spend so much time online that I should be able to make several lists: one for productivity apps, one for entertainment apps, and yet another one for social apps, but I don't.  Instead, I barfed up one, big mixed-up list that consists of things I loved about my time online in 2009.

1.The Gillmor Gang

Every Saturday morning when I got on the elliptical cross trainer I laughed out loud listening to The GIllmor Gang, which is usually recorded on Thursday. The cranky geeks who assemble for a weekly grilling by the visionary and ascerbic Steve Gillmor
can include, Kevin Marks, Robert Scoble, Dan Farber,  Mike Arrington, and anyone else in the neighborhood, which last week was Paris. Now that, after six years, they've finally learned how to work with live media, the show is a very deep discussion of living life in the real time stream. However, I should warn you that the show sometimes inexplicably disappears from the air for months. You'll need to do your own research to find out why:-)

I got addicted to this show very quickly because I love people like me who help startups. Jason Calcanis puts his heart and soul into talking to the entrepreneurs, and hasn't skimped on the production values, either. The startup callers are screened well (I haven't heard any total losers), and Jason gives real help (in addition to free tickets to Tech Crunch 50 and other expensive conferences). He also invites first rate guests to help him advise the callers. Add in the occasional "Insights from Tyler," Jason's assistant, and Lon reading the news, and things are never dull, even when the show runs over two hours.

This Twitter client, which started out as a video conversation tool, keeps listening to its users and iterating according to their wishes. Of all the beta test teams I've been on, this is the only one that appears to have a true capacity to take user feedback seriously and turn it back to us as features we want. Time and time again I've tried another Twitter client and was drawn back to Seesmic by new features. I'm pretty tired of switching, so I think I'll stick.

Steve Rubel made me eat my words about this dead simple way to aggregate my considerable online life. I thought I had reached Nirvana when I moved my blog to, but nine out of ten blog posts, including this one, are now composed on Posterous. It's just too easy to upload everything to one place by email, and then just tell it where to go: Flickr, WordPress, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook,– almost anywhere else you wish.

This is the year Medicare finally let me have my own records online as part of a pilot program they are trying out in Arizona.  Of course they couldn't get a lot of people to participate, but I have been overjoyed.  My pharmacy, my doctor, and my lab are finally all included, and all my records are in one place.  I've shared the password to my records with my kids and a friend, so if anything happens to me, even if it's in India, the person who has to treat me will know something about me even if I'm incapacitated.

It took me a while, but all my bank accounts, investments, and loans are aggregated on Mint. I started using it right after it started, and this will be the first year I have a good way to get my taxes into Turbotax. Because I'm on a Mac, Quicken and Quickbooks never did it for me. When Quicken acquired Mint, the Mint founder said he'd replace Quicken in six months, and for me he already has.

7.  I love Leo's whole network, but two shows are favorites.  This Week in Tech, a weekly tech news show, airs on audio and video on Sunday afternoons and is a never-miss for me, especially after last week when Leo LaPorte got his mother involved in his discussion with John C. Dvorak  about Facebook privacy issues. She didn't know she was on the program, and she acknowledged her crush on John. While these are also cranky geeks, they are very knowledgeable about issues over a three-decade time span, and Leo has a wonderful radio voice. 

8. Also on is This Week in Google, where Gina Tripani, Leo, and Jeff Jarvis discuss all things Cloud-related. From Gina, I've learned everything about Google Wave, and from Jeff I've learned what's happening in the media business. Making the show about the Cloud, instead of just Google, makes it fair game to discuss everything from citizen journalism to online identity.

9.Freshbooks has become my billing software this year.  Between my bank, Freshbooks and Mint, I never have my data on my hard drive anymore.  Do you think that's dangerous? So do I, but I suspect that among the three of them, at least one will survive, not be hacked, and remain free, and I will have access to my data. Maybe the next great opportunity is an aggregator for financial data that's spread all over the cloud.

10. Clicker. This is perhaps the newest of my fave-raves. It is my online TV Guide.  It locates all episodes of TV shows you want to see, so you can find them online and see them. Since I never watch TV in real time anymore, or on the TV (which I use mainly as a news ticker service while I work), I think Clicker's brilliant. Clicker would have been totally unnecessary a few years ago, but now it is nearly mandatory if you want to conveniently locate online video.

Notice that Twitter and Facebook, both of which are becoming more trouble than they may be worth, and poor, dying Friendfeed, are left out of the list. Perhaps because they aren't fun anymore, perhaps because they've graduated to being utilities, I couldn't get them into the top ten. Nor is any news site in my top ten. Just goes to show you….

And here's your bonus:  Dave Winer. I know he's not an online app per se, but I'm following,,  RSS Cloud and many other initiatives in which he's engaged and I find them fascinating.


Posted via email from Not Really Stealthmode

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rayanne Langdon December 22, 2009 at 10:25 am

Thanks for including us in this awesome list, Francine. I hear you regarding Seesmic. I've been part of this close-knit team since the very early video days. I totally feel like they're interested in how I think I can help their development process.

Folks ask us the “Will you be around?” question quite a bit. Rest assured, we got yo back : ) You can read all about our security measures here: And we try to make it quick and easy to export all your reports as an additional backup, of course.

We're here for you if you have any questions! : )

Rayanne Langdon — Queen of Hearts,

Trooper June 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm

This was a really awesome read! I am happy to have found it. Will have to pass on to my friends! Thank you for sharing this information!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: