Are you tired of seeing the same old sites every time you open your browser? SaveDelete reveals 50 clever ways you can go beyond your usual bookmarks and discover the web’s latest innovations.
Whenever researchers conduct surveys to find out the most popular online activities, the results are usually the same: shopping, banking, social networking, entertainment and news. Websites in these categories are so integral to our lives that we often don’t bother to look at any others; indeed, it’s claimed that on average we only visit five to seven sites on a regular basis.
But with useful new tools being launched every day, there are lots of online innovations waiting to be discovered and explored. These range from clever tricks you can do with videos and photos to ways you can improve your life, unleash your creative skills and make everyday tasks much easier.
In this article, we round up 40 exciting and interesting new sites that we think you’ll love. Most of these have a practical purpose, but some are included purely for fun. We’ve also chosen 10 unusual but useful items you can buy online.
Improve your skills
Recipe websites usually assume you have some basic cooking experience, but not everyone knows how to slice an onion or carve a joint. Improve your culinary skills by watching the how-to videos at BBC Food Techniques, which cover a variety of easy, intermediate and advanced tasks. Once you’ve mastered a technique, you can then apply it to one of the suggested recipes.
A new feature on the Guinness World Records website lets you compete to become a world-record holder. Click the ‘Set a Record’ button, pick a challenge and upload the video evidence of your feats. Recent examples include the fastest time to shell a boiled egg, the highest score on Bejeweled Blitz and the most rubber bands stretched over a face in one minute.
Verbling helps you master a foreign tongue by taking part in video conversations with native speakers. The site pairs you with a random person to talk for five minutes in their language and five in yours. If you get on well, you can chat for longer and resume your lesson in your next session. Currently, only English-Spanish exchanges are available, but more languages will be added soon.
Do you use the same words too often or let your sentences run on too long? Find out by pasting a sample of your writing into Pro Writing Aid, which will analyze your style and produce a report that highlights area for improvement. The long and you’ll be alerted to aspects such as over used words, clichés and ‘ sticky sentences’ that slow the reader down.
Improve your artistic skills by installing the free Android and iPhone app How to draw, from Artelplus. This provides step-by-step instructions for drawing 70 different cartoon animals, characters and objects, including dogs, superheroes and trees, either using a pen and paper or onscreen (ios only). The graph-paper background helps you get your picture’s proportions right.
Save Someone’s Life:
Become an organ donor:
Help save lives by adding your name to the Organ Donor Register. The sign-up process only takes a minute and you can choose to donate any of your organs and tissue, or specific body parts such as your kidneys, heart and eyes. Your details will be matched with your NHS number and your medical records updated accordingly. You can remove your name online, too.
The microvolunteering site help from home lets you earn money by charities by playing online games. For example, you can take the give vaccines trivia quiz to support the fight against life-threatening diseases, or play go fish to help the ocean conservancy tackle overfishing. The more points you score, the more money is donated to good causes by advertisers.
Explore the World:
In the same way that blue plaques commemorate the addresses of notable historical figures, Zoopla’s purple plaques mark the former homes of current celebrities. For example, you can discover where Lewis Hamilton once lived or view Jk Rowling’s old abodes. If someone famous once lived in your house, tell Zoopla and you could potentially boost the property’s value.
NASA’s amazing Eyes on the Solar System site lets you fly around planets, moons, asteroids and the Sun, as if you were an astronaut in the Voyager2 spacecraft. You can take featured tours of the cosmos, zoom and rotate celestial objects, and view photos, videos and maps. The site uses NASA data collected by mission dating back to 1950, which makes the astronomical experience impressively realistic and means you can travel back in time as well as across space.
How could you fare if your nearest city was hit by a 15-megaton nuclear weapon? Probably not too well, but you can check your chances of survival using this morbid map. Enter your location (or let the site detect it), and specify the bomb type and the population of its target. We found you can stay alive by hiding in the Scottish Highlands, but would you want to?
Improve your Communication
Make free voice and video calls:
Vox.io is a new Skype rival that lets you chat to friends over the web for free, without even needing to download any software. Just click a contact to start a voice or video conversation, or send the person a link to get them to call you back. Web and iPhone calls to other vox.io users and free, but you need to pay to phone landlines and mobiles.
Unsubscribe from Multiple mailing lists:
Clear your inbox of junk mail by signing up with Unsubscribr. This handy service lets you remove your email address from multiple mailing lists with a single click, rather than hunting for individual ‘unsubscribe’ links. The free version of Unsubscribr detects and deletes junk messages sent to your Gmail, Yahoo mail and AOL Mail accounts in the last five days. For $2, the premium option will scan the previous 30 days.
If you really want to get someone’s attention, send them a few words through Gzaas. With this free tool, you can create huge, screen -filling messages in your browser and share them over the web. Type a message, click ‘gzaas it’ and customize the style, color and background. Gzaas then generates a link for the message that you can email people and post on Facebook and Twitter.
Boost your brain
Get expert answers to any question:
Who invented hair gel? Is there a KFC in Malaga? Are my thumbs too fat for an iPhone? These are some of the queries shared and solved on new Q&A site Beepl. The site addresses your questions to people most likely to know the answer, to help you get expert advice and avoid timewasters. Queries are also posted on Facebook and Twitter so friends can chip in.
Learn an astonishing fact:
There’s no shortage of trivia on the web, but for fun and fascinating facts, it’s hard to beat today I learned something new updated daily, this blog gathers photos and videos about “things that fall outside common knowledge”. For example, did you know that Chinese iPad knockoffs are advertised by an Asian Steve Jobs? That the animal in the Firefox logo is really a red panda? Or that Samsung started in 1938 as a company selling dried Korean fish?
If you don’t have time to visit individual newspaper websites for the latest headlines, Muck Rack lets you track their journalists’ Twitter feeds to find out what they’re talking about. The site covers dozens of news sources across the world, including BBC News, the Guardian and the Times, and is a great way to read reporters’ views that might not make papers’ published editions.
Enhance your music & video
If there’s something important you need to do today, use your favorite song as a reminder. Online Music Alarm lets you set a you tube video to play in your browser at a time of your choosing. you can set multiple alarms using different videos and install the Chrome extension (bit.ly/alarm288) for easy access to the service. It’s free to use and you don’t even need to register.
Make your own silent movie:
Copy the success of the multi-award-winning movie the artist by creating your own silent films from you tube videos, Paste the URL of a clip into the Artistifier and it will be instantly transformed into a black-and-white movie, complete with a swinging soundtrack (no dialogue, of course), authentic screen flickers an blurry borders, and caption cards at appropriate points.
Create instant video playlists:
Searching You Tube for a particular artist usually uncovers all manner of karaoke versions, parodies and other irrelevant results. Tubair solves this problem by finding only the top videos for a specific band or singer without all the usual You Tube clutter. Just enter the name of the artist and click the only button to create a playlist, or hit similar for videos from related acts.
Edit audio and video files online:
Solve a Mystery
Be more creative
Read more lets you create your own digital magazine using its simple online tools, and earn money from advertising, which it arranges for you. Design the front cover and pages, add your own text and images, and share the magazine online or via Readmore’s new iPad app. The service is free to use and plans to introduce more customization options soon.
Make shopping easier
Try on clothes using your webcam:
Enhance web tools
Microsoft’s Zoom. It tool lets you convert any web image into a high-resolution photo that you can explore in close-up detail. Paste the URL of the picture into the box on the homepage, click create and the site will convert it to deep zoom format, which lets you zoom right into the image regardless of its size and without losing quality. You can then share the hi-res result on Facebook and Twitter, or embed it on your website or blog.
Amazing things you must buy online
Test people’s eyesight using the letters of your choice by ordering a personalised eye chart from Firebox.com. Enter a message of between 27 and 150characters, choose a font and the site will print the words in optician-friendly format on a 61*30cm poster. Whether you choose to spell out something rude in your chart is entirely up to you. Prices start at Euro 14.99.
Like & dislike stamps:
One of the oddest products on Amazon.com is a sample of radioactive uranium ore, priced at $39.99 . Described as being useful for testing Geiger counters, rather than developing nuclear weapons, it’s worth visiting the page just to read the customer reviews: “I purchased this product 4.47 billion years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty.”
From Black Jacks Jelly Babies to Liquorices allsorts and chocolate mice, Chewbz is packed with delicious retro treats. There are plenty of other sites that sell nostalgic childhood favorites, but the sheer variety or sugary (and sugar-free) delights on offer at this store is impressive and we love that you can order your sweets in a jar, gift box or hamper. Delivery costs from Euro 2.99 for 1kg of sweets.
Make travel easier
The similar service My Taxi Rank (web.mytaxirank.com), which has a free iPhone app, is also worth a look.
Want to get away somewhere, but not too far? Then enter your current location and a maximum travel time at cartoo. The site will highlight the area you can potentially cover on a Google map, so you can choose a suitable destination. It also lets you switch between driving, walking and cycling distance estimates. We got from the Web User office to Calais in three hours.
There are plenty of restaurant review sites, but recommending specific dishes at eateries around the world. Search for the name of a meal to find the best place in your area to enjoy it, or discover the best dish at a particular venue. You can browse photos of the evidence, and share details of your own culinary experiences. Foodspotting is now available for android, iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Phone, as well as through its website.