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Whiskers on kittens…and other favorite things

June 30, 2008

I have a pretty cushy job.  I basically surf the Web all day long.  And it’s not work related stuff, either.  Well, some of it is, but most of it is just for shits and giggles.

In my days, I’ve come across some really good sites that are pretty much daily visits for me.  I think that, from time to time, I’ll list out some of the cool ones I come across.  Who knows?  I may just do some good in this world.  Or I’ll just take up space with more useless blog posts.  Either way…

1.  Engadget.com – Engadget is, as you can probably guess from the address, a gadget related web site.  They cover a wide range of gadgets and a wide range of tech events throughout the year.  If you want live-blogging of any one of Steve Jobs’ addresses, they do it.  If you want some preview of a prototype SLR digital camera, they’ve got you covered.  Engadget is one of the biggest gadget sites on the Internet, and honestly, if you’re only finding out about it by reading my blog, you’re a sad individual and I will pray for you.

2.  Gizmodo.com – Another great gadget web site.  In fact, I personally prefer Gizmodo to Engadget.  Engadget covers a lot of ground, but their writing always feels a little sterile.  Gizmodo on the other hand is like Engadget with a personality.  If a product sucks, they says it sucks.  If it’s great, they say it sucks (just kidding…).  Gizmodo doesn’t post as often as Engadget, but that’s a good thing.  Engadget may have higher quantity, but it’s not always necessarily better quality.  Gizmodo posts usually answer any questions I have about the item.  Also, Gizmodo seems to reference it’s sources better than Engadget, which I like.

3.  Lifehacker.com – Lifehacker is a site devoted to increasing your personal productivity or enriching your life.  They post about gadgets (although not to the extent that Gizmodo or Engadget do), software, diet plans, financial advice, ways to remove stress from your life, etc.  I’ll admit that most of the time, I don’t care about the content of their posts because they usually write about things which I have no interest in.  However, every once in awhile, they post about some little-known software goodie that really blows my mind.

4.  Ohgizmo.com – Yeah, the name sounds like a porn site, but it’s a gadget site (not THOSE kinds of gadgets, you sickos!).  Although it may seem like just another gadget site, they really post more about the really odd or little known gadgets that bigger sites gloss over or don’t even cover.  You can see some really crazy tech stuff at Ohgizmo.com.

5.  Digg.com – The social news site.  Honestly, I’m not even sure why I’m posting Digg.  I have come to hate this site recently.  Imagine a site run by ADD-afflicted 12 year olds, and you’ve got Digg.  Unfortunately, some great stuff does occasionally leak through and make it to the front page, so I still check this site.  Just skip over the 300 “Obama Cures Cancer With His Breath!” worship posts and the 7 million “Linux ROX!  Windows SUX! New research proves it!” posts.

6.  Giveawayoftheday.com – Giveaway Of The Day is a pretty cool site that I just found recently (through Lifehacker, thank you very much!).  It’s a site devoted to giving away commercial software for free.  Each day, a new commercial software package is posted, and you have 24 hours to download it before the offer is changed to a new package.  Companies will make their software available through this web site and giveawayoftheday.com will give you either a serial for the software or provide a proprietary installer that provides the serial automatically.  Giveawayoftheday.com tries to restrict you by saying that you have to install the software within 24 hours to get the deal.  Usually what I do is I download the giveaway of the day, then download the actual installer from the companies web site.  You can either get the serial number for the software in a readme file provided with the software package, or if it came with a proprietary installer, you can usually mine the serial from the Help -> About menu in the software once you’ve installed it, or from the registry.  Once you have the serial and the software installer, you can install it anytime you want without bothering with the 24 hour deadline.

7.  Woot.com – Woot.com is another 24-hour website.  But instead of giving away one piece of commercial software every 24 hours, they sell one item every 24 hours.  One day, they’ll be selling brand new DVD players for $25, and the next day they’ll sell a Tivo remote control for $3.  You never know what they’re going to sell next.  One day it could be great, and the next day it could be something completely worthless.  If an item sells out in 10 minutes, it doesn’t matter.  The site will not post a new item for sale until the full 24 hours have passed.  Shipping and handling is always $5, not matter what the item is.  Every once in awhile, the site will host what it calls a “Woot Off”, which does away with the usual 24 hour time limit.  Once an item sells out, they move on to the next item immediately.  Some items sell out in mere seconds, and others will take FOREVER to sell out (in one recent woot off, they sold something like 2000 Tivo remotes and it took like 8 hours for all of them to sell!).  Woot has a couple of other sites, wine.woot.com, and shirt.woot.com, which sell wine and t-shirts, respectively.  Woot also has a decent forum community, so even if you don’t like the item currently for sale, you could still stick around for some interesting conversations.

8.  StumbleUpon.com – StumbleUpon.com is a great concept.  I use it daily.  It is really just a site devoted to helping you discover new web sites.  I use Firefox web browser and StumbleUpon.com offers a browser toolbar plugin that puts a button in my browser.  Whenever I click on that button, I’m taken to a new, random web site that is related to my interests, which I specified at the StumbleUpon.com web site.  I have found some great Photoshop tutorial sites, philosophy sites, etc., that I never would have found if I hadn’t stumbled upon them!

9.  WordPress.com -Yes, I’m listing the very site that I’m posting this blog on.  WordPress.com is devoted to helping you start your blogging lifestyle.  It literally takes just a few minutes to create an account and setup a new blog.  You set up your account, name your new blog, pick a style for the site, then start posting.  It’s as simple as that.  And the options are really good even if you’re more than just a weekend blogger.

10.  Gmail.com – This is THE email site.  If you haven’t experienced the way Gmail deals with email, then you’re missing out.  First of all, Gmail is accessible anywhere you have a web connection.  Second, it provides damn near 7GB of email storage per account.  It provides IMAP and POP3 access, so you can use any email client in the world to access it.  Starting off, Gmail is difficult to work with, simply because most people are used to the old folder-style of email sorting.  Gmail doesn’t do folders.  You have an inbox and that’s it.  But I swear that if you stick with it for a few months, once you get used to it, you’ll have a hard time using regular old folder-style email again.  Using Google’s excellent search capabilities, if you need an email, you simply type in a query and within a second or two, any emails matching your query are returned.  Plus, you can label emails with one or multiple labels.  Once an email is labeled, it’s like being in a folder.  You can select any one of your labels, and you’ll be shown all the emails that match that label.  What this means is that, instead of putting your family reunion photos email into a single folder, you can label that email with “Family”, “Reunion”, “Uncle Bob”, “Cousin Lucy”, “Photos”, and “Drinking”.  Now, anytime you want emails related to Uncle Bob, this one will pop up.  If you’re looking for emails that deal with Uncle Bob and Cousin Lucy, this one will pop up.  So it’s like putting a single email into 6 different folders.  Did I mention that Gmail is free?

These are just a few of the sites I’ve found.  Obviously, these are all pretty well known web sites, so I doubt most people will find anything new in this particular post, but I figured I’d get the big ones out of the way before I start posting more of the obscure ones.

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