There are a number of websites which I use regularly, all of which are that bit extra special and that I think others should know about. I’ve listed 12 such favourites below.
I’m hoping that you may not have heard of some of these, so please check out my count-down to the number one special site that I think everyone should know about and try to use. You never know you may find something new and think ‘Wow, I wish I knew about that before’.
You may think it odd to start with Wikipedia but it is possibly the most useful website to regularly use; not only as an encyclopedic reference tool to gain more knowledge on practically anything, but also as a frequently updated news resource. It is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project with 18 million articles (over 3.6 million in English) that have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, something that can inevitably lead to errors and vandalism. I also have to cite that I have extensively used it’s hallowed words to help explain the websites below!
Have you ever wondered whether the email that has been forwarded to you about say for instance..’New York Starbucks charging 9/11 rescue workers for water’ is true? Or whether it’s a load of old cobblers (incidentally the Starbucks one is a load of bollocks). Websites such as Hoaxslayer are “dedicated to debunking email hoaxes, thwarting Internet scammers, combating spam, and educating web users about email and Internet security issues. Hoax-Slayer allows Internet users to check the veracity of common email hoaxes and aims to counteract criminal activity by publishing information about common types of Internet scams. Hoax-Slayer also includes anti-spam tips, computer and email security information, articles about true email forwards, and much more. New articles are added to the Hoax-Slayer website every week.” Useful eh? Some of the articles are fascinating to read. You need not ever read a junk email ever again and wonder whether it’s true or not.
Go Daddy is an Internet domain registrar and Web hosting company that also sells e-business related software and services. In 2010, it reached more than 45 million domain names under management. Go Daddy is currently the largest ICANN-accredited registrar in the world, and is four times the size of its closest competitor. Basically if you want to write your own website (through WordPress for example) then you can host it easily and cheaply through GoDaddy. They’ve got a really useful friendly helpline and make things really easy to get you and your website up and online.
The above leads us neatly onto WordPress. Do you want a blog or a website easily and quickly? Then look no further than WordPress; an open-source blog tool and publishing platform used by over 13% of the 1,000,000 biggest websites. WordPress has a web template system using a template processor. Users can re-arrange widgets without editing PHP or HTML code; they can also install and switch between themes. It’s a doddle to use and there’s loads of tips and advice out there to get the most out of the platform.
http://wordpress.com/ (for a free blog) or http://wordpress.org/ (to create your own site, to then host through a web-hosting company like GoDaddy for example).
Dropbox is a free web-based file hosting service that uses cloud computing to enable users to store and share files and folders with others across the Internet using file synchronization. You can upload and then access from any other computer with an internet connection your photos, docs, and videos – all hidden and secure. You need never lose your files from a dodgy hard-drive or removal storage device anymore.
SourceForge is a web-based applications and software directory. It acts as a centralized location for software developers to control and manage open source software development. Hosting more than 230,000 projects, SourceForge offers free access to hosting and tools for developers of free / open source software. You can use the site to access and download a multitude of key applications and software – the list of useful tools on there is mind boggling. If you want a free version of NotePad ++ , or a password manager such as KeePass Password Safe, then this is where you get it from.
5. Picnik Photo Editor or Sketchpad
Now owned by Google, Picnik is a free online photo editing service. It can import photos natively from Facebook, Myspace, Picasa Web Albums, Flickr, Yahoo Image search and also offers options to upload from a computer or to upload from a website. Many of Picnik’s basic photo editing tools are free to use with additional photo editing features offered via Picnik Premium for a monthly, 6-month, or annual subscription cost. The website is mega-useful as you don’t have to rely on expensive non-web-based imaging software anymore to alter and edit your images.
4.Wavepad Sound Editor
Want to chop and change audio files to create your own music? Or even just convert between different audio file types? Then try the brilliant Wavepad Editor. It’s so easy to use. You can easily create your own ring tones or message alerts by cropping bits out of songs. The full version is given for 14 days but even after that the free version has lots of useful functions still.
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing program (it’s a protocol too just like http or html) used for distributing large amounts of data between peers on the internet. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and it has been estimated that it accounted for roughly 27% to 55% of all Internet traffic (depending on geographical location) as of February 2009. You can use it to download Movies, TV Shows, Music, Software and more.
http://www.bittorrent.com/ then search for ‘torrents’ using something such as http://www.picktorrent.com/
Ahh, where do I start with Spotify? Perhaps that the app on my GS2 is so easy to use? Perhaps that I get access to all the music I could ever want? (I’m sure I’ll be 60+ before I manage to listen to the stuff that I’ve downloaded). Whatever, it’s just that my life has changed lots since subscribing to Spotify. It’s just so easy to use and I’ve listened to so much stuff that I would never have accessed so easily before. It does cost mind – the free access gets you certain privileges, but nothing like the £5-a-month or £10-a-month subscriptions (the latter which lets you download as much as you want then access it when you’re off-line). In short, try it. If you don’t like it then you’re not looking for new music on it hard enough.
Go to http://www.spotify.com/ for more details and to download it.
“[The] first personalized dashboard publishing platform for the Web. Digital life managment, Widget distribution services and brand observation rooms”
Perhaps not the sexiest or most straightforward way of billing itself, but my top pick for useful websites. In simple terms it’s a website where you can create and organise your own personalised ‘dashboard’ with tabs containing web content pulled through from other websites (using webfeeds or RSS feeds). It can easily display bite size information from all your email accounts, FaceBook, Twitter, Digg, Blogs, news, sport pages, magazine articles etc – you name it, all in one place. You create an account and can log in from any computer as there’s nothing to download. There’s loads of similar websites that do this but Netvibes for me is the most simple and effective one. Everyone should try it!