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COMPUTER & INTERNET
If you thought Google was a mere search engine, look again. Click on ‘more’ at the top of the homepage to discover the work of ‘GoogleLabs’ – more than 50 free tools and web pages that could change your internet life.
The most grown-up (just) of the social-networking sites that are fast taking over the world. Excellent for staying in touch with far-flung friends, though pretty good too for re-establishing contact with those you hoped you had lost.
The website you graduate to once you’ve discovered how to put your holiday snaps on the net. Here, everyone’s photos are linked by using tags, such as ‘Spain’, ‘beach’ or ‘happy’, which sets you off on an exploration of others’ uploads.
Surf the web without disclosing who or where you are.
Trying to send holiday snaps or music files by email can fail if your mail server rejects the message for being too large. YouSendIt’s free service allows you to upload files of up to 100Mb, and sends a link to the intended recipient.
Helps surfers track when and where their personal information appears in cyberspace for £30. It searches 4 billion sites, millions of public records and credit databases, enabling users to shop, surf and bid with confidence online. A small price for peace of mind.
If you’re forking out for an 8Mb broadband connection, an 8Mb broadband connection is what you expect. This site performs a speed test to assess how your connection measures up.
This award-winning free site gives you access to McAfee’s massive database and offers automatic alerts to sites that use or have links to spyware, adware, spam, viruses, scams and other high tech horrors.
The Email Preference Service allows you to opt out of commercial email lists from members of the Direct Marketing Association. It’s by no means guaranteed to stop unwanted emails, but it may reduce them.
This site keeps a database of wireless hotspots in all areas of theUK, and whether they’re free or subscription-based.
Any visitor to eBay will have been outbid at one point or another and felt the red mist descend upon them. This is a “sniping” service, meaning you can put in an eleventh-hour bid and get your goods.
This mail-forwarding provides you with a unique American address so that theUSsites can send your goods to Myus, and Myus sends them to you. It’s that simple.
Keeping on top of trojans, viruses and worms can be tricky. This site keeps a rolling update of all the current threats, as well as links to the latest versions of the AVG suite of protection software. All software is free.
Back up mobile numbers for free on this simple-to-use site.
In this digital era, it’s all too easy to leave photos to rot on a memory card rather than printing them out. This online lab prints out your pictures from just 5p and posts them out on the same day.
A free online file conversion site that works for hundreds of formats – ideal if you’re awash with different file formats. Easier than conversion software.
Hints, tips and troubleshooting for your iPod and associated software.
If you use just a few websites, this lets you create a home page that has links to them all. Simple, free and practical.
If you try and send anonymous text or email messages, you’ll usually leave some kind of trace. But not with Sharpmail: it’s been used by friends to bring together the love-lorn but shy, by parents sending messages to children at Christmas time, and – no doubt – a host of far less innocent pranks.
All you need to know about keeping the net safe – protecting children, preventing spam, avoiding viruses and stopping others accessing your personal details.
The superfast way to send large files over the web. Don’t attach that family video to an email, Pando it instead.
If you’re finding the cost of sending text messages to be a crippling drain on your meagre resources, this site allows you to send texts to anyUKmobile phone number for free. No limits on the number of messages you can send – but remember to include your name in the message, otherwise the recipient won’t know who it’s from.
Many people would instinctively head to BT’s website if they were after telephone numbers and addresses, but 192′s site adds a host of other features, including electoral roll and census records for personal searches, and company reports.
The site lists many well known companies, and their equivalent geographical numbers
Listing for products on eBay are often mis-spelt, so searches won’t find them. This lists regular mis-spellings so shoppers can track down unsold gems.
Are you keen on instant messaging, but frustrated that Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL all require you to have different bits of software running in order to keep in touch with people? meebo.com rolls all these services and more into one application that runs inside a browser window and that you can use on public computers.
Online shopping for (nearly) everything you might want to buy. The original auction formula is still going strong, but plenty more features have been added since it began. Take a look at non-UK sites, such as ebay.fr and ebay.de, too, for bargains others may have missed. The layout is the same even if you don’t speak the language.
TV, MOVIES & RADIO
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is a HUGE collection of movie information. We try to catalogue every pertinent detail about a movie, from who was in it, to who made it, to trivia about it, to filming locations, and even where you can find reviews and fan sites on the web. We then do our best to present this information in a manner that is easy to search and access.
Turn your home videos into animated flip books. Much more appealing than another DVD.
On-demand television and radio programmes from the BBC.
A round-up of what the critics thought of films on general release.
The British Film Institute’s definitive guide to the British film industry. Plots, features, statistics and news from the film world.
News, features and listings forBritain’s terrestrial and cable television. Customisable interface so your favourite channels are always at the top.
The authentic (and often tangential) voice of theBritain’s ‘real’ football supporters.
From shock jocks to orchestral baroque, thousands of internet radio stations to listen to on your computer.
What’s coming on and what’s making an exit inLondon’s theatre world. Especially good for seating plans, so you can see where the box office staff are putting you.
The Internet Movie Database. The world’s biggest (and still growing) reference for actors, directors, locations, plots…
Find a restaurant, takeaway or pub anywhere inBritain. Just insert a postcode and you’ll get results to suit your tastes. Select whether you want to eat French, American, Chinese, Thai, Indian, seafood or vegetarian and you’ll get full details of the establishment, with a handy Google Map.
Addictive series of Flash games.
News, reviews, hints and tips for virtually every console game on the market. Essential if you are still up at 2am trying to find a way into the castle on Zelda.
Online anagram machine for Scrabble players and crossword enthusiasts. Also solves Sudoku.
Work out how much extra or less you would pay on your mortgage if your lender changes the rate you are paying.
Currency converter covering every world currency.Azerbaijannew manats toCaymanIslanddollars?
Subtitled ‘Consumer Revenge’, this is where you find the discounts, tricks and tips to save money. The weekly email is essential reading for canny consumers. It caters only forBritain, but every country should have one.
The Motley Fool. The original – and still the best – personal finance site on the web. For savers, borrowers, stock spotters and day traders, sound, independent advice that cuts through the jargon.
KNOWLEDGE & RESEARCH
The internet’s version of that clever uncle who always seems to know the answer to your questions. There are few subjects the site doesn’t tackle, though the coverage can be superficial. A good starting point for idle research.
How to do just about everything, from getting stains off curtains to buying a second-hand car.
Updated weekly, information, tips and recipe ideas on British seasonal food.
Two great sites full of short videos showing you how to do almost anything, from the incredibly useful (exercises for diabetes sufferers, tying a Windsor knot) to the revelatory (‘learn different kinds of kisses’), via the wonderfully obscure (‘make a moving jaw for your werewolf mask’).
Welcome to the English language Wiktionary, a collaborative project to produce a free-content multilingual dictionary.
Designed as the lexical companion to Wikipedia, the encyclopaedia project, Wiktionary has grown beyond a standard dictionary and now includes a thesaurus, a rhyme guide, phrase books, language statistics and extensive appendices. We aim to include not only the definition of a word, but also enough information to really understand it. Thus etymologies, pronunciations, sample quotations, synonyms, antonyms and translations are included.
Wikipedia is written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world; anyone can edit it. Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown rapidly into one of the largest reference Web sites, attracting at least 684 million visitors yearly by 2008. There are more than 75,000 active contributors working on more than 10,000,000 articles in more than 260 languages.
Shows you the dates of Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and American holidays from now to 2010.
DIY projects from zombie make-up to LED balloons. Excellent selection of rainy-day projects for bored children (and adults) at home.
Spoof Wikipedia-style encyclopaedia where nothing is true, but a good deal is very funny indeed. Idle away an afternoon or, even better, hone your comedy skills by making a contribution yourself.
Information on your carbon footprint and how to cut down on it. Includes an online calculator to measure your effect on the world.
Engaging encyclopaedia of the modern (and not so modern) world, with good illustrations and clear text. Can suffer sometimes from an ‘it’s amazing!’ tone of voice…
ADVICE & LEGAL HELP
Find where you stand legally with the Citizens Advice Bureau’s online information resource.
Rehab 4 Addiction is a helpline for people experiencing addiction. This helpline aims to stop addiction before it becomes too late. Free helpline number 0800 111 4108
If you need medical advice but can’t book a doctor’s appointment, this site is the alternative. You can submit up to three questions, for £20, to be answered by a doctor. You can even upload a photo of your condition.
Online information and advice about health and illness, run byBritain’s National Health Service. The site includes a useful self-diagnosis tool that can reassure you that your hangover is not in fact meningitis.
Overspent on your credit cards? Had a cut in income? Don’t worry; all the info you need is here, from voluntary agreements in which the creditor can legally write off 75 per cent of your debt, to simply negotiating lower monthly payments.
An absolute essential if you struggle with imperial to metric, miles to kilometres and Celsius to Fahrenheit.
Volunteering opportunities for young people, sorted by region, interest, skills and need.
Advice and information for young people, including health and fitness, drugs, problems with bullying, how to study and applying for jobs.
If you’re untying the knot, this site offers all the advice you need. There’s an ask the experts section listing questions sent in by people going through divorce, along with replies from legal professionals.
From bad breath and piles to cold sores and beyond, Dr Margaret Stearn dispenses invaluable advice.
HOUSE & HOME
User reviews on local tradesmen. You describe the job you need done and how quickly and suppliers contact you with quotes – with previous customers rating them.
For budding Laurence Llewellyn-Bowens everywhere, it provides the ability to redecorate your home in cyberspace. Choose colours, furniture, accessories and finishes and then publish the results online.
Looking for a plumber in Peckham? How about a builder inBradford? This excellent site is a directory of trade’s people, each of whom has been vetted and checked.
Stuck for what to have for dinner? Don’t feel like going out? This site has 40,000 free recipes, all created, tested, reviewed and approved by home cooks. There are even step-by-step videos.
Confused about recycling? Not sure what can and can’t be recycled or how to get started? This site provides all the advice you need from whether you need to wash out jam jars and tins, to whether you can recycle a broken mirror. Has a handy “where can I recycle” feature. Just insert you postcode and a Google Map will pop up with the nearest recycling sites to you.
A powerful way of keeping tabs on MPs and peers: attendance records, voting patterns, recent statements and more.
Free home improvement guide covering a wide range of DIY projects. There’s tips on using a paint brush properly (don’t load your brush with paint higher than half way up the bristles), fitting new mains sockets and installing a dishwasher. Along with practical guides on fixing ball-valve cisterns and loft insulation.
Register your home with the Telephone Preference System to prevent unsolicited sales calls. The Privacy and Electronic Regulations 2003 state that it is a legal requirement of companies to respect the wishes of those registered.
Building your own house? Or doing a massive renovation? This huge information resource has the lowdown on finding a plot, self-build mortgages, insurance and warranties, and lists suppliers for everything from bricks, stone, bathrooms and doors to flooring, heating, roofing and windows. It’s Grand Designs online.
Neighbourhood information based on postcode: schools, shopping and, juiciest of all, how much the house down the road sold for recently.
Find out what’s being built in your area, learn about planning permission applications and see what plans your local council has up its sleeve. Search by postcode, area or place of interest inEnglandandWales.
Advice and suggestions from the world’s leading gardening organisation. A good ‘how-to’ section and seasonal tips for the time of year.
Spring cleaning tips and tricks all the year round. You’ll find gems like using soap and vinegar to clean wood, and a simple way to brighten up gold – a dab of hand washing soap on a toothbrush. There’s a list of cleaning providers, and a discussion forum.
There are plenty of price-comparison sites on the web, but this one seems to get it right more often than most. Type in what you want to buy and Kelkoo will come back with the cheapest prices it can find.
Gift ideas for when you can’t think what to buy someone. You enter their age, sex and interests and how much you want to pay and it scours the net for ideas.
Unabashedly straightforward classified ads site, with everything from new homes to online romance.
Thinking of buying a sat-nav system, DAB radio or MP3 player, but don’t know which to choose? Why not ask someone who already owns one? This site brings together owners of products with prospective buyers. It’s a great way to cut through the marketing speak of manufacturers and helps you make an informed choice on what you buy.
The self-proclaimed second-largest online marketplace in theUK. It’s simpler to use and cheaper than eBay, plus it has a “three strikes and you’re out” negative feedback policy for all sellers which means that dodgy dealers get short shrift.
Online pedestrian route-finder for London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh that shows you the best route to walk from A to B. Includes calorie counter, CO2 savings and points of interest on the way. Other cities coming soon.
Indispensable and almost always spot-on guide to negotiating the capital’s public transport system. You enter your starting point and destination and it gives you the best bus, tube, cycle and even boat routes to get you across town.
Bucket loads of deals to suit every kind of budget, with everything from family breaks to adults-only options and once-in-a-lifetime getaways in our catalogue. You’ll find holidays that are just the ticket if you want a one-click package that takes care of everything. Or, if you’re the type of person who wants to fine-tune every detail – like your break’s duration, the airport you fly from and the board basis – there’s tonnes of options for you to get your mitts on, too.
An all-round travel website. Use it for good prices on flights and holidays, but click on ‘Destinations’ for some well-researched and up-to-date travel guides.
The National Parks are featured strongly on this resource for walkers but you’ll also find guides to great walks in the West Country and other parts ofBritain. Has info on where to stay and an online forum to share the walks you’ve discovered. Also included is a guide for newbie walkers, detailing the gear you need, how far to go, and where to go.
A time-saving, fun alternative to haggling on the phone, this offers hotels around theUKthat are open to offers.
The site’s Holiday Planner feature helps tourists find destinations that match their exact requirements.
KAYAK searches hundreds of travel sites to help you find and book the flight or hotel that suits you best.