We share the websites you should already be using to
make your life easier and more entertaining.
Groundbreaking websites are all around us,
and if you believed every company that positioned itself as the lasted,
greatest thing, you’d have an awful lot of bookmarks in your browser. Sites
come and sites go, and it’s rare that one makes enough of an impact on your
life to revolutionsise how you use the internet, but occasionally sites come
along that offer a genuinely new way of finding, storing or curating stuff on
the web. We’ve put together a list of 20 websites we think could let you use
the internet in a way you haven’t done before, save your time, make you money
and let you enjoy yourself in the process. We’ve found brand new sites that
offer functionalities not found elsewhere and also included a few that have
been around for a while, but have really come into their own in recent years.
We may have highlighted them because they are about to come out of beta, or have
just matured into popular and interesting tools worthy of an introduction if
you missed them the first time around – or a re-evaluation if you didn’t.
What we do on our computers is moving
increasingly to the cloud, with free storage and utilities becoming the norm.
we like to think we’ve found the sites that can help you get the best web
services available to make your online life as pleasurable as possible.
The breath of services online means you
really can change your life using the internet. With the websites we’ve covered
you can discover new music, set up your own radio station, play the latest
high-end games, book holidays or bring down a corrupt corporation, all from
your web browser. Then there’s the social side, where we’ve discovered sites
that let you use online pinboards, create compelling stories from social media,
share free music and even write your autobiography, all of which can help you
find a new way of expressing yourself, or find others who are interested in the
same thing as you.
Whether it’s keeping aide-mémoires, finding
images and notes, solving problems using crowd sourcing or automating admin
tasks, we reckon we’ve got a site that will change your web browsing habits
The whole point of
computers when they were first introduced to the workplace was to automate
tasks to make humans’ lives easier. Complex calculations could be done in
seconds, freeing up the human operators to concentrate on more cerebral
matters. Nowadays, it’s the computers themselves that are creating more and
more menial and repetitive tasks that keep us away from keeping up with social
networks to backing up photos and documents.
Wouldn’t it be nice to
cut through all that and make the internet work for you? For it to do these
tasks automatically, or tell you when something happens that you are genuinely
interested in? What if every time you uploaded a picture to Instagram it was
automatically backed up to your Dropbox account? Or if the release dates for
new films magically appeared in your Google calendar? Wouldn’t it be good if,
when you were ‘working from home’, you got a text message letting you know when
your boss had emailed you? Yes? Then Ifttt is for you.
Make the internet work
for you by creating tasks that fit the simple ‘if this then that’ structure.
‘Ifttt’ stands for ‘if
this, then that’. This type of command is the basic premise behind most
programming languages. The Ifttt website enables you to link commonly used
services and devices (or ‘channels’, as it refers to them), and lets you
arrange for an action to occur on one service when certain conditions have been
fulfilled on another. These channels include a variety of common tools – social
media sites like Twiiter and Facebook, photo services like Instagram, and even
phone-based services like generating text messages and making calls. Each of
these channels can be connected to another, and when triggers are applied to
them – say ‘every time one of my tweets contains a certain hashtag, back it up
to Evernote, the note-making tool’ – it will carry them out automatically,
saving you time and helping you saty organised.
If your programming
skills aren’t up to the task, there are ‘recipes’ so you can get commonly used
linkups and apply them to your services. It’s deceptively simple and powerful,
and as more services are added it could revolutionise the way you use the web.
Back in April 2010,
four computer science students from New York University were so unimpressed by
Facebook’s lack of privacy controls they decided to create their own
decenralised open source social network. To do this they tried to raise $10,000
to fund on www.kickstarter.com,
but the idea of a more controllable network was so popular that by June they had
raised over $200,000. This caused a flurry of media interest that talked it up
as the next big thing and then, as so often happens, it was quietly forgotten.
Since then it has gone through a buggy alpha developer build and is just about
to appear in beta form. So why are we championing it as a new way to use the
Diaspora was built as a
reaction to the privacy issues of Facebook, and these issues are still a worry
today. What’s more, with the latest changes to Facebook (like the forced
implementation of the Timeline) taking even more control away from the user,
maybe it’s time for a site that’s described as ‘the privacy aware, personally
controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network’.
Even Facebook founder
Mark Zuckerberg donated to the Diaspora project.
Diaspora wants to make
privacy key to social networking – it doesn’t plan to share any of your
information. You control every aspect of your Diaspora experience, without
having to wade through pages of settings to keep your profile secure. You can
also control what you see and how you see it. Diaspora came up with Google+’s
Circles before Google did – except it calls them Aspects – so you can choose to
share your posts and photos with only those groups of friends you choose. It
also lets you integrate other social networking services, including Twitter and
Facebook. It’s a truly open social experience that puts you back in the driving
Some are saying
Diaspora is too late to the party. It’s certainly been teasing us with the beta
version for a while, but if you value your privacy and want to control how your
data is seen by others, it’s likely that you’ll end up on Diaspora in 2012,
even just to give it a try – if it’s developers can manage to get it out of
beta in time.