Monday, August 11, 2008

Way Cool Websites

I write a monthly column of way cool websites for the MacNexus, the Sacramento Macintosh User Group. I have decided to post them here instead of emailing them to a select group. Here is a compilation of those I have included in July and August 2008 lists.

Bad Fads
This site “was created to take a fun and nostalgic look at fashions, collectibles, activities and events which are cherished by some and ridiculed by others.” Feed your thirst for nostalgia with fashion entries such as bellbottoms, Farrah Fawcett hair and Nehru jackets. Another favorite category of mine is events where you will see photos of flagpole sitting in 1924 and telephone booth stuffing in 1959.

BenefitsCheckUp, developed and maintained by The National Council on Aging (NCOA), is “the nation's most comprehensive Web-based service to screen for benefits programs for seniors with limited income and resources.” Examples of topics covered are tax relief, prescription drugs, social security, in-home services and transportation.

If you've ever wanted to add way cool signatures to your email message, check out Coolsig and choose your favorites from over 4,000. Examples of categories you will find are: Battle of the Sexes, Life's Questions and Pick-up Lines. If you have never added a signature in Apple's Mail software, just open the preferences and click on Signatures, then add away - I have 10 currently).

This site is “a geek blog dedicated to the scientific study of gadgets, gizmos, and awesome.” The day I visited two items caught my eye: the 3G iPhone and the Mask of Emotion. My interest in the new iPhone needs no explanation; the mask, “a project from the Digital Media Design Dept at Hongik University in Korea, trades facial expressions for LED emoticons. The default setting is no expression, but if people shake hands with the wearer, the mask smiles.”

Google Zeitgeist
This Google website pulls together interesting search trends and patterns. The search statistics are automatically generated based on the billions of searches conducted on Google and provide “a cumulative snapshot of interesting queries people are asking – over time, within country domains, and some on – that perhaps reveal a bit of the human condition.” For 2007, iphone topped the list of fastest rising.

How Stuff Works
I included this award-winning site in 2004 because I had found its information on gas pricing really helpful. I felt it was worth another mention because besides its compendium of easy-to-read and understand articles on how things work, there is a wide variety of videos as well as. You can search by keyword or in categories from animals to travel.

Morse Code Translator
This fun site lets you type letters, numbers and punctuation into the top box and press the Translate button. You will see the Morse code in the bottom box or if you want to hear how your entry sounds, you just press play.

Web hacker Phil Crosby created this very fast online dictionary ninjawords because ninjas are smart, fast and accurate. You can even compare definitions by looking up many words on the same page. If you wish, you can see your word lookup history too.

Our Documents
This website is a cooperative effort among National History Day, The National Archives and Records Administration, and USA Freedom Corps. A special feature is “a list of 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings. The documents chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965.”

You will find lists of heads of state and heads of government (and, in certain cases, de facto leaders not occupying either of those formal positions) of all countries and territories, going back to about 1700 in most cases. Also included are the subdivisions of various countries (the links are at the bottom of the respective country entries), as well as a selection of international organizations. The screen shot shows an excerpt from the May 2008 listing.

Named as the top 2007 travel website by, this site is lets you compare top aggregators. “A handy matrix at the top of the results page gives an overview of the lowest prices pulled from 600 airlines across 200 sites. And refining the search by departure time or airport is a breeze.”

Snopes, also known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is the most widely known site for validating or debunking urban legends, Internet rumors, email forwards, and other such stories of uncertain or questionable origin. Whenever you get an email offer that seems too good to be true, check Snopes.

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