Photo by Giorgio Montersino
You’re a busy guy with a lot on your mind, we get that. That’s the reason why we found these 13 very helpful websites that are guaranteed to make your life easier.
By Victoria Witchey
As a generation, we have truly perfected the art of procrastination by way of the web. We’ve all figured out (and bookmarked) a world of sites to help us kill time, whether it’s stalking our friends on Myspace or Facebook, chuckling it up over the latest YouTube atrocity, or keeping up on our favorite political or social commentary blogs. But there’s also a plethora of sites to -gasp- simplify your life, educate your mind, and organize your schedule. Here’s a round-up of the very best sites, with a few goodies with sheer entertainment value- for after you’ve finished simplifying, educating and organizing of course.
The ultimate app for the absent minded, ODF allows you to send timed text messages to yourself for free with no annoying registration required. Send quick SMS texts to your cell to remind you to pick up your dry cleaning, alert you to your girlfriend’s birthday or bug you about that conference call or alumni event. For the ultimate in geekdom, pre-schedule reminders about bill due dates or input all of your family’s birthdays a year in advance.
Have you always wanted to learn how to pick a lock, save a wet cell phone or talk your way out of a traffic ticket? Knowledge-seekers and budding criminals rejoice: Howcast will teach you all of these things, and more. Offering short, simple videos and spanning thousands of topics, this video network can help you build business skills, advance your relationship know-how, or teach you cool party tricks. The videos run the gamut, from the truly useful (how to survive in the woods, how to make yourself irresistible to girls, how to tell if your girlfriend’s a psycho, how to chill a six pack in three minutes, how to improve your gas mileage, how to ask for a raise) to the fun and cheeky (how to have sex in a car, how to make a coin disappear, how to pull the ultimate office prank) to the strangely obscure (how to make an alarm clock water gun, how to outwit carnies). Allowing you to become a jack-of-all-trades, its spoon-fed knowledge for those with an aversion to reading.
An addictive Google alternative, SearchMe displays search results as an image gallery of actual webpages you can flip through. Unlike text list formats, this search engine helps you find what you need by offering visual cues to help you nail down your desired digital destination. A clean interface, similar to the aesthetic of an iPhone, also allows you to drill down and narrow results into categories. Get your search on.
If you’re staring into the phone-call abyss of tech support, complete with atrocious wait times and a call center in India, turn to Fixya first. Fixya serves up free technical help for gadgets, gizmos, electronics and beyond. If you can’t find a trouble-shooting answer to an issue with your PDA, printer, car, or toaster, post a question to have an expert provide you with a fix. Sorry, no category for fixing crazy ex-girlfriends.
StumbleUpon helps you discover and share websites according to your preferences and the selections of other users. SU’s free download adds a button to your internet task bar and as you stumble, you rank each site with a thumbs up or thumbs down. The more you rank, the more tailored-to-your-taste SU becomes. With a mind-boggling amount of websites out there, this handy tool lets you discover the very best ones to intrigue, educate, enlighten and amuse.
At the office and need an important file on your home computer? On a trip and need easy access to all your info and emails, or a crucial contact you’ve left behind? Jooce is a private online desktop with public sharing capabilities that allows you to access files, email, music, videos, instant messenging, storage and all your other applications. Whether logging on from Dubai or Detroit, your Jooce desktop is consistent and bundles all of your chat and email accounts in one easy to use platform. It sure beats perpetually lugging a hefty laptop like a digital nomad.
Have a hankering to hear some cheeztastic eighties classics like Beat it, Walk this Way or Sweet Child O’ Mine? Or maybe you need to hear the Rocky theme song to get motivated to hit the gym? Go to Songza.com and type in any song or artist that floats your boat. Within seconds, and without registration, your tune will stream for free. Songza is a search engine that gives you convenient access to streamable MP3’s across the web. With no annoying downloads or waiting time, its instant gratification for impatient music-lovers.
Take regular old consumer reports, remove the elitist professional reviewer, add a webcam and boom- its ExpoTV.com. Whether you’re in the market for a tent for camping or a treadmill for running, check out ExpoTV first. Thousands of product reviews and consumer reports are compiled into categories like electronics, fitness, automobiles, video games, computers and more. Browse the thousands of short, unbiased, consumer videos of products and services to get a handle on your potential purchase from a ‘regular guy’ instead of some purchasing guru. It’s Consumer Reports Magazine on crack.
Billing itself as being “like Evite, without all the bloat, clutter and unnecessary crap,” it’s a sure-fire way to simplify and organize your social life. You can plan parties, barbeques, meetings, get-togethers, conference calls and happy hour meetups, all while tracking the attendees seamlessly. No need to register or login, Mobaganda creates a free homepage for your event and will even let you subscribe to an event feed for updates. Embrace your inner event planner.
Don’t take a risk with visiting some dodgy barber or shady sushi restaurant. Check in with yelp for the recommendations- and warnings- about local bars, doctors, mechanics, dentists, restaurants, realtors, dry cleaners, movers and beyond. Yelp compiles in-depth, personal reviews and organizes them into one user-friendly base to help you make educated choices about the businesses you shell out cash to. You can link up to your friends and go on their recommendations, or consult flagged maps when location is key. Don’t be a victim of bad tuna, or worse, a bad haircut.
Have a few pages of text you need to read in a hurry? Cut and paste the text into spreeder and sit back. Brilliant and useful, it’s a ‘free, online speed reader.’ This cool webapp helps you read a ton of material, whether it’s a boring quarterly report for work or a super-long e-mail from your old college buddy, by displaying single words in rapid succession. Bonus: It can allegedly train you to speed-read regular old text without a helping hand.
Hulu is a gratifying website that offers free, streaming video of a sweet collection of full length TV shows and movies. Just a few of the better TV shows include Family Guy, The Office, and The Simpsons, or you can catch sports games and round-ups by the NBA, NHL, and College Football. If you’ve got an hour-plus to kill, browse through the movies for selections like Dude Where’s My Car, Karate Kid, Requiem for a Dream, 40 days and 40 nights, Hoop Dreams, The Fifth Element and more. The key is a Flash Video Format, which is a higher resolution and bit rate than YouTube. Tune in, drop out, boys.
Promising to “capture thoughts, create to-dos and set reminders with a simple phone call” Jott is the ultimate for overscheduled guys on the go. It’s essentially a voice to text transcription service that allows you to make a phone call and have your words converted into text, email or calendar appointment. This free service enables you to brainstorm ideas during your morning commute or assemble an e-mail from a taxi. For hyper-connected technology addicts who cringe when separated from their trusty laptops, you can also post to twitter and blogger.