Friday, March 27, 2009

The Top 50 Websites

The Top 50 Websites
Fri, Mar 27, 2009
The Straits Times,Digital Life

By Sherwin Loh & Tham Yuen-C

HOW do you pick the choicest 50 websites when there are 186.7 million?

Of course, trawling all of cyberspace is impossible and the mediocrity of numerous sites make them unworthy of mention.

In the spirit of toasting the 20th birthday of the World Wide Web, we have made the cuts, nevertheless. Rough cuts they may be, but clear ground rules were applied.

The sites had to cover more than one topic, which excluded specialist spaces like Divx, Google Maps and Skype.

Also, the top-of-mind recalls were ruled out: So out went the likes of Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo and YouTube.

Instead, the final 50 highlight a wide range of subjects covering beauty, entertainment, parenting, travel and health, and offer useful tips and ideas and share information online.

Also, we noted the rise in the number of people using their mobile phones to go online: Internet information provider comScore says that 63.2 million people accessed the Internet on their mobile devices in January this year compared to 36.9 million in January last year.

So, we have included three sites that have been formatted for a mobile device. These are sites with icons and text sitting in just the right positions on small screens.

The sites on the following pages are numbered, but the numerals are for neat visual order and not to signal any order of merit.


Parenting

1. Kiasu Parents
www.kiasuparents.com

Raising a child is difficult enough. In Singapore, bringing up children has additional levels of stress. This is where Kiasu Parents comes in.

Aptly named, the site is a portal for local parents to gather and exchange tips and ideas on bringing up baby.

2. Nymbler

For a site dedicated to naming your newborn, Nymbler scores by having a distinct name to call itself. Sure, Baby Name Wizard (www.babynamewizard.com) may be easier to find on search engines, but it loses points on originality

Pets

3. The Daily Puppy

Even if you are not an animal lover, there is no denying that dogs are one of the cutest looking creatures on the planet and there is no further proof than The Daily Puppy.

Food

4. Food Network

If you cannot get enough of the cooking shows on TV, check out Food Network, where you can watch full episodes of various cooking shows, from Iron Chef: America to 30 Minute Meals, for free. The site is the home of the United States cable TV channel of the same name.

5. Epicurious
www.epicurious.com

Whether you are scrambling for a cake recipe or need to decide on what wine to take to a dinner party, Epicurious will have what you need. The site has been around for years and is a treasure trove of information on food.

6. TasteSpotting
www.tastespotting.com

All you will see on this site are pictures of delicious food.

However, TasteSpotting is not just a collage of food porn to drool over.
The site is a compilation of recipes from the Web and each picture is a link to the website or blog where the recipe resides.

Healthy Living

7. Spark People
www.sparkpeople.com

There are two types of dieters: those who want to be left alone doing their own thing and those who need lots of support and encouragement from others.

Spark People is a weight-loss website for those who need moral support.

The site encourages you to shed kilograms by dieting and exercising. It has many of the standard tools, such as calorie counter and exercise tracker, that weight-loss sites offer.

8. Zen Habits
www.zenhabits.net

Healthy living is not just about exercising and dieting, it is also about being stress free, and Leo Babauta has some ideas on how to do it which he shares on his blog Zen Habits.

9. Fail Blog

The success of this site is dependent on the failure of countless of people. Remember shows on television that air home videos of something stupid that took place by accident or a mistake caught on camera?

Fail Blog relies on users putting up occasionally embarrassing, silly or compromising pictures or videos for a good laugh. The end result is a collection of content that shames the subject, but entertains the viewers.

10. F*** My Life
www.fmylife.com

The site name may be a tad explicit, but it sums up the thoughts of visitors who leave postings about how they are experiencing a new low in their lives.

Each paragraph-long post bears a touch of irony, even as some are simply downright funny.

11. Oddee: A Blog On Oddities
www.oddee.com

Robert Ripley of Ripley's Believe It Or Not will feel right at home here.

From the 15 Stupidest Warning Labels, 20 Most Bizarre Mugshots to the World's Most Creative Buildings, Oddee tracks the weirdest, most quirky and some downright puzzling mistakes made by man.

Data managers

12. Evernote
www.evernote.com

Even if you have an elephant's memory, it is near impossible to remember everything.

Evernote aims to do this mammoth task for you.

Think of it as a huge manila envelope in which you can save any kind of information you want, whether it is a recipe you have torn off a magazine, a label off a wine bottle, a business card or a love note scribbled on the back of a napkin.

13. Scanr
www.scanr.com

Phone cameras these days can snap clear pictures of documents you want to keep. However, if you leave them in JPEG format, storage is a problem and they would be unsearchable.

To help, Scanr lets you convert these images into PDF or text files. The online application can convert pictures of written or printed documents ranging from notes, forms, receipts, business cards to even scrawlings on whiteboards. All you have to do is snap a picture of the document and upload it onto the site.

14. Geni
www.geni.com

There is no poking or sheep throwing in this social networking site.

Its aim is to help members build up their family tree.

Unlike a regular social networking site, you can add only members related to you on Geni. When you first sign up, you are asked to add biographical details of your parents, siblings and other relatives.

Inspiration

15. Notcot
www.notcot.org

Tune in to all that is amusing and aesthetically pleasing on the Net at Notcot.

The site is a collection of pictures that are not only pretty to look at, but also link to other sites. These pictures and links are contributed by netizens around the world, but curated by a team of editors who decide what is good enough to go on the site.

If anything, the pretty pictures can, hopefully, spark off some creativity.

16. Lovelines
www.love-lines.com

Take a peek into the hearts of people around the world through Lovelines. The website lets you discover what the rest of the world is feeling through their blogs and Internet postings.

It does this by harvesting people's feelings through analysing thousands of blogs every minute and then picking up lines where there are expressions of love or hate.

The results of this analysis are presented in the form of an interactive page with sliders and charts.

As the site also ties in the feelings with the geographical location of the poster, it can also provide a glimpse into the emotional health of countries.

Entertainment

17. Musicovery

The only time I get to discover new pieces of music is when I'm listening to the radio while driving.

What if you would like to discover songs that are new to you, but might not necessarily be new?

Try Musicovery, an online music service that helps you discover songs.

The cool thing is that you can explore the world of music not just by regular genres like musical style, but also by mood, decade and tempo.

This is a good way to try out obscure bands.

18. The Digital Bits
www.digitalbits.com

Movie fans hankering for the latest DVD releases or Blu-ray releases of blockbusters like The Lord Of The Rings or the Star Wars Trilogy should bookmark this site.

The Digital Bits keeps track of the home-video market, with news and reviews of the latest and upcoming releases from the United States.

19. Kontraband
www.kontraband.com

For family friendly fun, there is YouTube (www.youtube.com), but for everything else, there is Kontraband. As the name suggests, this site hosts clips, jokes, pictures and games that are best viewed when you are alone.

20. Newsarama
www.newsarama.com

To fans of the graphic novel, the movie Watchmen is a work of art. However, for non-fans who cannot quite follow the plot, there is a reason: The comic book was deemed "unfilmable" by the novel's creator, Alan Moore.

Find out more about comics and comics-related tie-ins like movies and video games, where all forms of spandex and capes are acceptable.

This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life.

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