It’s easy to get lost on the internet among the millions of useless websites and the couple dozen or so good ones. Unfortunately, some of the few good ones go way under the radar, and you’ve never even heard of them, let alone visit them. Ranging from practical and educational to just plain fun, these are sites you’ll want to bookmark.
Update: 11/11/2014: Five of the ten sites are no longer in existence or have been bought out. This list was first published in January, 2010 and it goes to show how fast the Internet changes. Do you have a site you would like to add to replace any of the these helpful sites that have vanished? Submit in the comments.
10. Zeer If there was a website that could save your life, it’d be Zeer. Zeer displays the nutritional custom labels for every kind of packaged food you can buy, and then lets you comment / rate your favorite, or perhaps least favorite, items. Trying to get into better shape or become healthier? Maybe you’re a vegetarian and you want to know if that tasty snack you saw had any beef in it. You thought you saw some beef-like texture for sure. Or maybe you want to know if that new Doritos flavor is any good. All your questions and more can be answered here.
Wikipedia’s overrated and about to become outdated. Bartleby provides you with unlimited access to various books and other information free of charge. The categories are reference, verse, fiction, and nonfiction. It’s very easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, whether it be Aesop’s fables or Shakespeare or even The Bible. The site also has a built-in encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, and quotation dictionary as well.
8. 5min Forget Ehow, Wikihow, or any other how-to website out there. 5min is your “one-stop shop for instructional videos and DIY projects.” It’s always easier to learn watching someone do it rather than reading about it. It’ll only take 5 minutes of your time and its videos range from “Tto Zurich, Switzerland” to “Yoga to Cure Constipation?” Or you can become a teacher, create an account, and upload your own videos.
7. Tryphone You can test drive a car, why shouldn’t you be able to test drive a phone? Don’t rely on CNET reviews and friend’s suggestions to buy your next phone, try it for yourself. Use their fully interactive online virtual headsets and try out the buttons, applications, services, content, and more. Every phone’s in crystal clear quality and literally, what you see is what you get. There are also user reviews, phone specifications, and other information on the site as well. Never feel uncertainty again when buying your next phone.
Google News is an amazing source of news. Constantly updated, reliable, and lots and lots of it. But maybe that last one’s not such a good thing. You’re busy but you still want to be informed, but it’s just so hard to discern what’s important and what’s not with Google News. That’s where Newsmap comes in. Newsmap is a graphical representation of Google News that makes it easy for you to find the news you actually care about. It relies on something called a “treemap algorithm” for this. Basically, more popular and important stories appear larger, while the lesser stories are smaller. Stories are also arranged by theme and represented by different colors. See for yourself.
Despite popular belief, many people do actually enjoy reading books, but they just can’t find any time to set aside for this underrated hobby. The DailyLit fixes that easily. First, you choose the book you want to read. The older books are free, while the more modern classics might need a purchase. Then you choose the time and day you want to read it. Maybe you want to read it every day at 8 P.M. And that’s it. DailyLit will send you short installments of the book via RSS or e-mail and you can read it on a mobile device like an iPhone or on your computer. Before you know it, you’ll have finished the book, and it’ll have taken you less than 5 minutes a day.
Traveling is a hassle. You have to keep track of all your transportation, reservations, and if you like to play it safe, your receipts. Well Tripit collects all those pesky little details and makes it into an easy-to-use master itinerary. Not only that, Tripit throws in maps, some local attraction suggestions, a few weather reports, and much more. You can access this itinerary online or from a mobile device like a cell phone, so keeping track of it couldn’t be easier. Don’t plan a trip again without Tripit.
3. Power Power is long longer live There’s no doubt that social networking has become something much, much more than just catching up with old friends who want nothing more to do with you. But there are just so many websites, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and everyone uses different ones. How can you possibly keep up with everyone? Power solves this problem and more. Power allows you to log in once, just once, and with that one click, you’re synced with a long list of social networking sites. All the status updates, messages, and posts in a single place. You can even use MSN messenger in the site itself.
2. Boxee Think of the copious amounts of videos that exist all across the vast World Wide Web today. This is where Boxee comes in and helps us maintain whatever sanity we will have while embarking on this impossible quest of entertainment. Boxee gathers the videos from a plethora of websites like Hulu, Youtube, and even Cnn.com, and feeds it to you in a very aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-use interface. You can even organize the videos, images, and music on your own computer with Boxee. The best part of Boxee? The community. Boxee suggests media to you mainly via your friends—you form friend groups with other Boxee users and you can see what they’re watching or even suggest your own videos to them.
You’ve heard of Wikipedia, but do you know Wikibooks? It’s in the same easy-to-use interface, but a totally different concept. Wikibooks is a community that was made to create a free online library of educational textbooks that anyone can edit. Just one click can get you a plethora of information you never thought even existed or let you become an expert in a subject you’ve always wanted to know. As of right now, there are over 36,843 pages of information in a multitude of textbooks. You can teach by adding your own knowledge to the content, or be taught by just visiting. Maybe the English language isn’t your forte (how are you reading this?).
by Johnny Dunn