Between school, work, and my personal projects, I end up spending more time on the computer than I probably should. While this has it’s downsides (I don’t even have a decent farmer’s tan anymore), I can say that I’ve stumbled across some really neat stuff online. I mean, considering the size of the internet, there was bound to be some really good buried treasure out there. And I’m not talking about your websites that everybody knows and loves (your facebooks, youtubes, wikipedias and gmails). Not even craigslist or IMDB or pandora (all excellent sites, I should add). I’m talking about the hidden gems. These less known sites have saved my bacon many a time. That’s why I consider them the 10 websites that you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. Have a look:
Grooveshark lets you listen to streaming music online. Unlike Pandora, Grooveshark lets you choose the specific songs you want, organize them in playlists, and play them uninterrupted to your hearts content, all while sparing you those annoying audio ads between songs. You even can save your playlists and listen to them later. Their song library is excellent and it’s rare that they don’t have a song I am looking for. Its so good that it’s hard to believe that it’s legal (I had to check their documentation to be sure).
Dropbox is a really cool way to share files and collaborate. Anybody can go to the site and create a dropbox. The box is like a file folder on your computer, only when you put files in it, the files are stored online. By sharing the folder with your friends, they get access to the same folder on their computer. Any one can add files to the dropbox, and the folder’s contents will automatically update for everybody who has access to it. You can even get to the folder on any computer with a web browser. It is the perfect thing to set up for large teams, group projects… pretty much anytime you want one organized place to keep files for a group of people to access. Say goodbye to emailing versions back and forth.
Now this isn’t the first time I am mentioning ted.com. This is a really impressive site. TED is a video archive of talks by thought leaders in Technology, Entertainment, Design, Business, Global Issues, Education, and other industries. If you want to hear about cutting edge research, impressive technology, and movements that are aimed to change the world, then wander around ted.com for a few minutes. With consistently impressive talks, high profile speakers, and polished presentations, you’ll be surprised that you don’t have to pay for access to such good content.
This cooking website pulls off a really neat concept: Finding recipes for you based on what you have in the pantry. You just start building a list of ingredients you have, and the site automatically gathers recipes you can make with those ingredients. It really is that easy.
Mint is a free, secure, web-based, personal finance website. It helps you keep track of your money but it is much more intuitive than your bank’s clunky website. The coolest thing it does is that it brings all your accounts together, across multiple banks and brokerages so you can see all your financial information in one location. You can also track your checking transactions, build a budget that alerts you when you’re about to go over, and see recommendations for ways to save money. Only Quicken’s desktop software comes close, and frankly, I don’t want to pay $60 for it and risk losing all my info if my hard drive crashes. Mint is all online. I’ve used it for about 2 years and now I can never go back.
Edmunds is your one-stop location for everything you need to know about buying or selling a car. You can search local listings for new or used cars, see reviews, appraise the value of a car, or read customer reviews. There is also a huge library of articles containing tips, safety advice, and keys to maintaining a car. If you are researching cars, you really don’t need to look any further.
Have you ever wondered why you get less than 2% interest when you loan money to the bank (like in a CD), but it costs you 15% or more to borrow money? What is with the huge discrepancy? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take out the middle man, loan your money right to the borrower, and get a nice fat interest rate? At Prosper, you can. Prosper.com allows you to loan small amounts of money (like $50) to people seeking money. The contribution of many lenders creates a fund that the borrower promises to pay back. It’s all the economics of borrowing and lending, but takes it out of the hands of the banks and puts it into the hands of the people. That means much better interest rates for both borrowers and lenders. Along the same vein is kiva.org, which allows you to participate in microfinancing for developing countries. This means you can loan your $25 dollars to a woman in the Philippines who is trying to start a business. In this case, the loan is repaid in full without interest, but you walk away with a good feeling inside.
I have to give a shout-out to Steven for showing me this site. Woot features one “Deal” every day, usually at a pretty deep discount. You only need to come back a couple of times to see how fun it is to track the daily deals (impulse buyers beware). And who knows, one day it might be just the thing you were looking for. They often sell stuff like digital cameras, mp3 players, camping gear, plasma TVs, and other consumer goods.
This site is for anyone who tried to email that 8 minute movie to aunt Glenda, only to have the email rejected because the file size was too large. Yousendit is a free service that lets you send files up to 100 MB in size. Problem solved.
If you are considering storing your photos online, then Flickr is going to be your best option. Putting you photos online is a good idea because they will be safe if your hard drive crashes (or if your house burns down). While you could put them all on Facebook, it’ll take a long time to upload them one by one, and what if you don’t want your friends to see all of them? Flickr lets you mark them as public or private, organize them, and even share them with people who don’t have a Flickr account. While a host of other sites offer similar services (snapfish, photobucket, imageshack, etc) Flickr has garnered impressive reviews for its simplicity and usefulness, making it rise above the rest. Did I leave any out? If you have one that I’ve forgotten then post a comment and let me know! I’d hate to miss out on a good one.