NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, September 2005

27 Useful Bookmarks

by Richard O. Johnson

The Web is a marvelous resource, and most of us come nowhere near tapping its full potential. I've attempted here to list 27 websites that without any necessary downloading provide exceedingly useful free non-specialized services and tools, that require no particular knowledge except how to navigate the World Wide Web.

1. Time Cave www.timecave.com
Memo to Me www.memotome.com
Using these two email reminder services you'll never forget another upcoming activity or event. Time Cave allows you to schedule incoming messages by interval (so many hours, days, weeks, months, or even years away) as well as by date and time. Memo to Me allows editing of content and date. With Time Cave you can choose your own subject line and send reminders to others, but Memo to Me will charge you for those features. On the other hand, Time Cave charges for the ability to repeat messages (monthly, weekly, etc.), standard with Memo to Me.

3. Way Back Machine www.archive.org/web/web.php
Is a website you're seeking no longer around? If it was active as late as 1996, you'll probably find it easily in this huge archive.

4. Centerwatch Clinical Trials www.centerwatch.com
Gives information on more than 41,000 active clinical trials in which you could participate. (Some compensate you handsomely for helping, along with free medical monitoring.) Includes a notification service, for trials in areas of your interest. Also describes the newest drug therapies.

5. Objectgraph Dictionary www.objectgraph.com/dictionary
A combination standard dictionary, technical dictionary, and thesaurus. (There's also a dictionary of chemical elements, of rather limited interest). A unique feature is the site's ability to "read your mind" if you're not sure of the word you're thinking of--or its spelling--or if you just want to save typing.

6. Myway email www.myway.com
An excellent Web-based email provider with an exceptionally clean interface (no banner ads or pop-ups). Unlike the case with competitors like Yahoo mail, Myway will respond to support inquiries. (It also has a terrific weather page--see link #7 following.)

7. Myway weather weather.myway.com
The best weather page on the Web. Even though its weather information is from weather.com, you'll see when you use it that the interface is much cleaner (and loading therefore faster) than if you were to bring up either weather.com or one of its competitors. You can personalize the weather according to your home town or zip code; the page you'll want to bookmark is that personalized page

8. Yesterday's weather http://snipurl.com/oldweather
If you're like me, you often want to know how today's projected weather compares with yesterday's actual weather. If you have today's forecast, you'll be able to make that comparison with the information at this site.

9. Furl www.furl.net
is useful, but what do you do when you find that a bookmarked page has disappeared (left the Web)? Or maybe it's still there, but--as with many newspaper sites--you can't read it without going to a paid archive. This won't be an issue if you've Furled the page. Furl allows you to create a set of special bookmarks that can be easily searched or browsed--or shared with others--but whose contents are permanently stored on your hard drive. It will also save parts of a page, as "clippings," but only as non-clickable text.

10. Ta-da Lists www.tadalist.com
Here you can set up as many easily editable to-do lists as you like. Enjoy an admirably clean interface and some handy features, like optional notes pertaining to each list as a whole, self-created clickable links, and the ability to easily email yourself any list.

11. Password Generator http://mistupid.com/computers/passwordgen.htm
Random characters compose the safest passwords. This tool will create a password with random characters according to your specifications. On your instructions, will even avoid ambiguous characters [o and 0, 1 and I].

12. Zap2it www.zap2it.com
With Zap2it you can check out both TV and movie schedules. Various options let you permanently personalize each set of listings, to give you just the information you need, in the format you prefer.

13. Acronym Finder www.acronymfinder.com
Don't be baffled by acronyms and abbreviations you encounter on the Web and elsewhere. This site offers definitions for about 2 million such terms. Optional downloading of any of a number of search tools (for various browsers) will allow you to view a definition almost instantly.

14. Translation Wizard www.faganfinder.com/translate
The Translation Wizard uses other sites' services to ease the process of finding a translation--that otherwise might require visiting ten or more sites to find the language of interest! It also has a neat button to identify a mystery language.

15. TrackEngine www.trackengine.com

16. ChangeNotes www.changenotes.com
These free services notify you via email of changes in webpages you select. Choose the Web address of a local theater, to see what plays are coming up. Or see every new installment of a favorite newspaper column, without having to buy the paper. TrackEngine offers many more options, but limits you to five pages per email address, as compared to 100 allowed with ChangeNotes.

17. GovBenefits.gov http://govbenefits.gov
A source of information on over 400 government-funded programs that extend benefits for which you may qualify, including compensated volunteering. Features a confidential questionnaire designed to point you to the most likely matches.

18. Books Price www.booksprice.com
Use this site to find the very best price for books you want to buy. Unlike other comparison sites, it figures in shipping costs for your location, and will calculate those costs for multiple-item purchases.

19. Craigslist www.craigslist.org
This nonprofit website serves as a free community bulletin board. Users post their needs and interests in various categories, like jobs, for sale, services, housing, personal, etc. (Navigate to the site for your community.)A great resource!

20. Health on the Net Foundation www.hon.ch
Certifies at no charge health-oriented sites that meet its standards for useful, ethical, and reliable information. Helps you find such sites related to issues of your choice, and offers a tiny toolbar to tell you whether a site on your screen is certified

21. Metacritic www.metacritic.com/film

22. Kids-in-mind www.kids-in-mind.com
Metacritic is an excellent source for movie critiques. For each film, it arranges its large variety of reviews from most to least favorable, and then tabulates the opinions, for an overall "metascore." (Additional Metacritic pages cover videos, music, and games.) For evaluating movies for children, or if you have a concern about violence, sex, or profanity, Kids-in-mind will rate and describe each film's content in those three areas.

23. CardRatings http://cardratings.com
This site maintains information on over 700 credit cards, and will suggest the best cards in a variety of categories--low or no credit, no annual fee, low interest, rewards/rebates, etc.

24. CheckFree www.checkfree.com
There are a host of good reasons for paying your bills online. It saves time, saves the cost of stamps, reduces the chance of late payment, extends the time in which you can use your money, cuts down clutter, eliminates the danger of checks lost in the mail, and facilitates tracking. With CheckFree you'll be able to pay many or most of your bills online, and the service is free to the payers.

25. Bug Me Not www.bugmenot.com
This site and the one following save you time and trouble while helping you cut down on spam. Bug Me Not keeps on hand log-in data (passwords with user names) for a huge number of sites that require registration. If you want access to such a site (like nytimes.com), but don't want to register, just visit the Bug Me Not site and log in easily.

26. Spam Bob http://evil-wire.luvfeed.org/cache/1269
Spam Bob offers a choice of three email addresses that you create, to protect your privacy. Anything@spambob.org is a phantom address, messages to which disappear into the ether. Use anything@spambob.com if you'll want to check on a reply message. (This is handy for registrations that require confirmation.) And you may want to use anything@spambob.net for all your correspondents. Mail from each such "net" address can be forwarded to you, and if it starts generating spam, just cancel the forwarding order!

27. Google Maps http://maps.google.com
Head and shoulders above the competition, these maps are much larger and far easier to configure. (They can quickly be zoomed and re-centered, and even dragged.) You can locate by category businesses in the map area, along with their phone numbers and other useful information about them.

Richard Johnson is a writer and editor, and founder/administrator of FREE FOR ALL The Skills Pool, a 29-year-old membership organization (http://theskillspool.org). He is a volunteer with TUGNET HelpContact for assistance with Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and Gmail. You may reach him at rj@theskillspool.org.

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this article to you.