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Talks At Google and other You Tube uses: Yep, it is a regular warren of rabbit hole behavior. I really found use for You Tube not in watching clips defending Britney or 2 Girls, 1 Cup reactions but in trying to locate archive video. It's been this bizarre treasure trove of music videos before there was a channel to play them (ie Night Tracks-era), BBC programing and discussion & education video. What's made me swoon within the past week is Talks@Google. It seems one of the additional perks for working for the Big G (other than the several on-site restaurants, gyms, child care, car & bike repair, etc) is also the ability to attend really remarkable lectures. The speakers range from authors, presidential candidates, Silicon Valley heavyweights to random celebrities and other cultural icons.

So first, a quick step to elevate to ability to enjoy these presentations - Downloading. You Tube and other sights posting similar content (Funny or Die, Google Videos, MySpace, CNET, et al) can be very easily downloaded w/ some pretty damn awesome browser extensions. The first is Better YouTube and it happily requires the amazing GreaseMonkey scripting extension. Better YouTube allows you to fine tune your viewing experience on-site (Theater View, hiding comments, etc) & adds a download link below the player. PS - For those unfamiliar w/ Greasemonkey, it's a javascript programming platform that allows third parties to overhaul and expand the usefulness of commonly used and loved websites. Once you get feel for Better YouTube, go install and try Better Flickr, Better GMail, Better GCal and any Lifehacker or the dozens of similar enhancements floating out there.

The second extension suggestion, and actually the one I use most, is Video DownloadHelper. This extension specializes in picking out embedded content (whether audio or video) through drop-down menus and toolbar customization. As with Better YouTube, you will be saving these videos into .flv format. If you haven't encountered this or other esoteric types of video file before, go bookmark and install the K-Lite Codec Pack - It will cure this and many other playback problems you didn't even know you had.

But I digress, Talks@Google! At last count, there are 570+ lectures posted and they average well over 45 minutes each. This includes performance, Q&A, and insight specifically slanted geek. My easy favorites have been Neal Stephenson (author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon & Anathem), Anthony Bourdain (former chef/author & travel commentarian-at-large), Howard Zinn (author of A People's History of the United States), Noam Chomsky (author of Manufacturing Consent, Failed States, Hegemony or Survival), Temple Grandin (autistic animal rights and psych policy advisor), Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence), Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting, Filth, Crime) and David Friedman (author of The Machinery of Freedom and Future Imperfect).

It's really near the point of having too many examples to talk about comfortably and fit common interest. I've found it far easier to browse either their main feed of all lectures and just page through them or just start subject searching. If you stumble onto something that you're unsure of, fire up the video and give it a couple of minutes. If it seems worth the time and bandwidth, downloads average 120+ megs w/ possession within an easy 5-10 minutes. If not, there's literally hundreds more to sift through. Best of luck and post good finds in the comments!

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