The Top 23 Undiscovered Web Sites
September 02, 2008
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PC Magazine recently published The Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites.
I’m a major fan of the Internet, and I love sharing interesting sites that I come across, but most of us are too busy to go through all 100. So, I cut out 75 percent of them, and here are my top picks out of their finds:
Drop.io is, put simply, the best file-sharing service we've seen. Just type in the URL you'd like to use, upload your files (up to 100MB), set a password and/or privacy setting, and choose how long the link should live (up to a year from the last page view). Sharing the files is then as easy as sending the URL around. There's no registration, no cost, and no limit to how many URLs you can use.
Jott is one of the coolest applications of speech to text technologies we have seen. Once you sign up for a free account, call Jott on your phone and you can leave a message that will be converted to text and posted on your blog, twitter speed or to-do list. The conversion is surprisingly accurate.
PageOnce collects your account info for just about any online account you might have and aggregates the info into a single page that looks good and is easy to keep track of. Keep tabs on your bank or investment accounts, see what's going on with your social-network profiles, check how many minutes you have left on your cell-phone plan, or even which Netflix movies are on the way.
This event-planning site will need to build a lot more momentum before it can challenge established services like Evite, or even the invite features built into Facebook and MySpace. But PurpleTrail has the features to give them a run for their money.
There are plenty of aggregated video sites, but Chime.TV pulls from the best (Break.com, Dailymotion, Veoh, and others) to make editor-created channels filled with stuff you'll love. The channels feature the latest episodes of shows like "Will It Blend?" and "Chad Vader", as well as channels for news, cute stuff, extreme sports, technology, and about 20 more -- including stuff from the network TV sites. It might seem a little odd when you could just visit the sites, but think of Chime.TV as the site that provides the constant background video comfort we use TVs for.
Group Card lets a group of people sign and send a free e-card, which works well for sharing a card with officemates, friends, or family members. The selection isn't much better than what you'd find in the card aisle at your local drugstore, but anything that saves us from spending $5 on a paper card is great with us.
Given our experience with greeting cards, both e- and real-world, it comes as quite a shock that one of the funniest sites on the Web is an e-card service. Browsing through the site's enormous collection of hilarious e-cards was enough to make us wish we had friends to send them to.
This helpful site presents user-submitted "rules of thumb," which the community can rate for their usefulness. Want to harness the collective wisdom on managing your money, finding the perfect mate, or getting rid of back pain? RulesofThumb is the place to be. Whether the collective wisdom is on target, however, is a call you'll have to make yourself.
Put your typing skills to the test with TypeRacer, which pits you against other players for the chance to win money, fame, and a slot on TypeRacer's leaderboard! (You actually get only one of those.)
There are millions of videos up on YouTube, but thousands have also been removed, and not always with the owner's permission. If any footage online can be accused of copyright violation YouTube will take it down, whether or not the accusation was justified. YouTomb, a research project by the MIT Free Culture student group, tracks the top videos removed from the service for copyright violation, and retains the metadata about the videos so we, the public, can make our own decision about whether the removal was justified or not.
Atmospheric Optics is a stunning collection of pictures that illustrate the strange and beautiful visual phenomena created by light, weather, and our atmosphere. Check out photos and explanations for everything from rainbows and ice halos to nacreous clouds and anti-crepuscular rays.
Looking for answers to your health-related questions? OrganizedWisdom takes a different approach to search by offering search results in the form of "WisdomCards," curated topics pages with the info and links you need. Find the WisdomCard that corresponds to your question, and rest assured that the health advice is legit.
Criminal Searches provides the scary-but-useful data on how many criminals live in your neighborhood, what crimes they were convicted of, and, in some cases, their names and personal info. It's all culled from public records, and is presented as a Google Maps mashup. You can restrict your search to sex offenders, search on a specific name to get a criminal history, or do a general search for criminals by city or ZIP code. This kind of data is certainly not for the faint of heart but can be useful in assessing the safety of your neighborhood.
Did you know it's quite possible that a severed head may actually feel pain for a while, post-separation? I think that's damn interesting, and so do the editors at Damn Interesting, enough to write an 1,100-word article about it. Their goal is to "collect and dispense damn interesting facts and ideas, whether they appeared in the past, the present, or the (anticipated) future." For example, did you know a supercollider was almost built under the plains of central Texas? Or that New York almost had a subway system based on pneumatic tubes? If you find that damn interesting, visit Damn Interesting.
Whatever you get dirty, this site can probably tell you how to clean it. Items include: dryers, white wall tires, LCD screens, paintings, golf balls, fake plants, cookies (the browser kind), furniture, venetian blinds, every kind of floor, and clothing (and specific kinds of spills, like Kool-Aid and gum), and pets and people. For example, there is a step-by-step on de-skunking both humans and dogs, neither of which involve that old wives' tale of tomato juice.
Even those who don't care about the ethics of food wasting are thinking thrifty, thanks to skyrocketing food prices. LoveFoodHateWaste pitches in with recipes that help you make use of food that might otherwise go bad. Need to use up some parsnips? Got some cottage cheese you'll never finish? Tell LFHW what you've got on hand, and the site suggests recipes that'll help you clean out your fridge and save money at the same time. We especially like the Rescue Recipes for foods that are already a bit past their best, like veggies that are "on the turn" or bread that's gotten a bit stale.
Songza is a search engine that gives you easy access to streamable MP3s across the Web. Enter a song, artist, or both and Songza serves it up free of charge -- you can even build playlists. Where does all this free music come from? Best not to ask.
TheSixtyOne is one of our favorite places to discover new music. The Digg-like music-streaming service lets you vote songs up or down, and provides just the right amount of customizability. Those with adventurous musical tastes can listen to newly uploaded tracks, while mainstream listeners can stick to the tunes that have already risen to the top with lots of votes.
Tired of your mailbox being stuffed with tons of annoying catalogs that you end up throwing away? Catalog Choice is a free service that lets you refuse catalogs you wish to no longer receive. The service cleans out your mailbox and saves a few trees at the same time.
Wigix exists for one reason: To give buyers and sellers a cheaper alternative to eBay. If you think eBay's fees are low enough as they are, then you've no need for Wigix. But if you're a disgruntled Power Seller or bidder, you might like its low fees and wealth of features like price histories and social-shopping options.
The big online mapping services offer photograph-based street views that let you see what your destination looks like from the street, but newcomer EveryScape goes even further by letting you explore both the street view and the interiors of buildings, too. The service also helps users find hotels, restaurants, and popular tourist sites with reviews from Yelp.com. Photographers on the ground are shooting as many building interiors as they can as EveryScape continues to roll out to new cities.
Plane ticket prices go up and down seemingly at random; you could buy a ticket today only to see the price sink (or spike) tomorrow. Farecast makes sense of it all by tracking pricing trends to let you know when it's time to pull the trigger. Enter in your travel dates, and Farecast will give you a pricing chart going back several weeks, along with a recommendation of whether to buy or wait.
There are zillions of flight search engines that find the best flights for you based on travel dates, airports, and especially price. But InsideTrip takes it one step further by letting you add comfort level as a search parameter. Is legroom important to you? Aircraft type? Lost-bag or on-time percentages? InsideTrip has you covered.
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