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The 100 essential websites

The 100 essential websites

Here we go again … our latest list of the 100 best websites sees short attention spans, the rise of Twitter, more browser wars and celebrity gossip sites setting the news agenda

Andy Warhol talked of a time when everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. With hindsight, however, he might have wanted to revise that down to about five minutes. On today’s web, phrases such as “here today, gone tomorrow” seem to involve ridiculously long timescales.

People who moaned that blogging represented a move to shorter attention spans – 250-to-350-word posts rather than 1,000-word stories – have now seen blog posts start to look big and, frankly, old-fashioned. Today’s trendsetters are using “microblogging” sites such as TumblrPosterous and Soup.io, which are taking the opportunity for creative “borrowing” to new heights.

But the smash hit of 2009 has been (apologies: I know this will cause pain) Twitter, where 1,000-word stories are reduced to 140-character tweets. Short attention spans R us.

Twitter’s rapid growth and open programming interface have given the site a wide impact. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of ancillary sites and services have been launched to help Twitter users post pictures, track followers, or – more usefully, from a commercial point of view – find out what the “hive mind” is thinking. Twitterfall is just one example. More recently, Listorious stepped in to make it easier to find and explore lists made using Twitter’s new list feature, while The Twitter Tim.es cleverly turned selected tweets into a personalised newspaper. How many of these sites will survive is, of course, open to question. Some are less like standalone sites than parasites.

Major web players such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft also got involved. Both Google and Microsoft signed deals for Twitter searches, while Facebook paid it the ultimate compliment of more or less copying its service. Or, perhaps, copying FriendFeed, which many users link to both Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook, while far from new, was another big player in 2009, reaching more than 350 million users. And through Facebook Connect, it has extended its presence across the web. Once you have a Facebook identity – and you must have one, mustn’t you? – then you can use it to access a growing number of sites and services. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The web might be a kinder, more polite place if people said things under their real names, which is what Facebook’s about.

Those in search of their five minutes of fame or, more likely, five minutes of fun fun fun, headed for YouTube. Although it has been challenged by rivals such as Vimeo and Microsoft’s Soapbox (RIP), its dominance has not been seriously threatened. Only the pornographers have been able to build much of a following outside YouTube.

Which is not to say that YouTube owns the web video market. The BBC has made a huge impact with its iPlayer catchup service, and in the US, Hulu has enjoyed great success with TV series and movies. Of course, both sites are showing videos that YouTube would love to offer, at a profit, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Music has been a significant player in the growth of the web since Napster, and its influence continues to grow. Spotify has made the biggest impact this year, gaining mindshare lost by Last.fm and Pandora. Meanwhile, Pitchfork has expanded its role as the web’s authoritative music magazine, and The Hype Machine came to prominence as a source of instant erudition by tracking the music blogs.

Almost finally, it may be that we are seeing the return not just of the browser wars but of the search engine wars as well. Google still rules the world, but in Bing, it now has a competitor that does some things better and has, in Microsoft, an owner with deep pockets. Alas, Bing also does many things a lot worse.

Possibly the most contentious part of this year’s list is celebrity gossip. The argument against would be summed up by a Wikipedian in two words: “not notable”. The argument for is that sites such as Perez Hilton and AOL’s TMZ are now helping to drive the news agenda. Even if you aren’t interested in Michael Jackson’s death, Tiger Woods’s affairs or whatever, this stuff has become impossible to avoid. This is one case where many people would prefer the web’s short attention span to be even shorter.

Blogging/microblogging

Now easier than falling off a log.

Tumblr Multimedia microblogging plus Twitter-style following.

Posterous Goes from instant microblogging into lifestreaming.

Soup A “super-easy” tumblelog for scrapbook keeping and lifestreaming.

Blogger Fast way to start blogging; training wheels for WordPress.

Bloglines For reading web feeds. Smart and clean.

WordPress Free, and most importantly spam-free, blogging.

Browsers

Do we all need five browsers nowadays?

Chrome Now here for Mac, and anticipating future world domination via Chrome OS.

Firefox  Everyone’s favourite is under attack from all sides.

Maxthon Based on IE code. If it stays “hip in China” it could reach a large global audience.

Cartoons

Everyone needs some relaxation. This is a visual one.

Dilbert It wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t so true.

XKCD Stick-figure strip poking fun at geek topics and relationships.

Celebrity gossip

No one needs this stuff, but it’s starting to drive world news and web traffic.

TMZ Rose to fame when it broke news of Michael Jackson’s death.

Perez Hilton Among the bitchiest of goss sites and often involved in ‘interesting’ celeb baiting.

Gawker New York-based media alert and gossip blog network, with fingers in many pies.

Create/collaborate

With all of us now living more of our lives online, these sites just scratch the surface.

Netvibes Your to-do lists, news, weather and photos on one page.

Scribd Shares 35bn words online: they can’t all be wrong.

Slideshare Like YouTube for PowerPoint decks.

Zamzar Useful: converts files from one format to another.

Film

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Sites to see before heading for the latest blockbuster at your local multiplex.

IMDb The most authoritative site about all things film and TV, which is why Amazon bought it.

Rotten Tomatoes Collects online film reviews, aggregates a score out of 100 and rates the film “fresh” or “rotten”.

/Film Said to be the favourite film blog of directors Jason Reitman and Darren Aronofsky, /Film features news, reviews, interviews and a special UK update each Friday.

Cinematical Terrific film blog with a Hollywood focus.

Gaming

A field where handheld, bedroom and Flash games are becoming mainstream

Eurogamer Reportage, with breadth, if not always depth.

The Independent Gaming Source  A great place to pick up on tomorrow’s breakthrough Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare and PSN hits.

Pocket Gamer Still by far the best site on handheld gaming.

Gamasutra  Where professional games creators hang out, and sometimes get jobs

Geek squad

Here be programmers …

Stack Overflow Where programmers gather to try to solve their problems.

The Daily WTF Daily dispatches from the coding warzone.

Joel On Software Essays by a former Microsoftie, now head of Fog Creek Software.

Government/public services/politics

Recycle Now Winner after a slight false start of the government’sShow Us A Better Way competition. What can you recycle close by?

British and Irish Legal Information Institute A database of laws. Only survives hand-to-mouth on voluntary donations; where’s yours?

What Do They Know? Makes filing a Freedom Of Information request as easy as sending an email. Too easy, some in power think.

Upmystreet All the detail on your area you could ever want.

They Work For You A site set up by volunteers to keep tabs on our elected members of parliament – and our unelected peers.

Link economy

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With millions of links on the web, we all need sites for sharing the best ones.

Digg Still the reigning champion of where the latest internet memes are though not always polite.

Delicious The thinking person’s link aggregation site. We use it.

Popurls Aggregating the aggregators: the web in a window.

Metafilter Living if isolated proof that a site can be successful without pictures or video, and can also host thoughtful conversations.

Slashdot Now looking venerable and old, but “News for nerds” site with a jokey name (/.) still attracts a big, and often knowledgable, audience.

Techmeme Technology news chosen by computer, though it’s now refined by human editors.

Location, location

Services like these blossom with a mobile phone that can access the internet.

Dopplr “Share your future travel plans with friends and colleagues”, then find out if others will be there too.

Qype Localised search for pubs, restaurants, etc; also a bit of a social network.

Loopt “Transforms your mobile phone into a social compass”.

Brightkite A “location-based social network”.

Maps

The flipside of location-based services: seeing where you are.

OpenStreetMap A rights-free map created by people like you. Remarkably detailed and precise.

Google Maps Street View Virtual tourism with practical applications, too.

Money/finance/consumer fightback

We all need someone on our side.

Money Saving Expert Does what it says on the tin.

Say No to 0870 Direct-dial numbers, not expensive national-rate ones.

Consumer Direct Government site for consumers.

Music

Last.fm British-made, now CBS-owned, music recommendation station.

Amazon Now has its own MP3 store in the UK as well as the US.

Hype Machine Picks up the latest news by tracking the music blogs.

Pitchfork The magazine of the music web, now with video, and lots of great lists.

Offbeat

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The Onion Still the satirical newspaper of record. If it’s not in the Onion, it’s probably happened.

B3TA Beyond classification; its forum has spawned many memes … and more than its fair share of trolls.

Lolcats respite from stress with daft cCaptioned cats and other animals.

News Lite respite from stress with daft cGreat source of news that’s much too trivial to print.

Oddee Setting an internet standard for sets of curious and mildly amusing pictures, not cats.

PostSecret Notes of secrets sent by people who want them posted. So they are.

Passive-Aggressive Notes Would it be too much trouble for you to have a look?

Photography

Flickr The granddaddy of photo-sharing sites.

Picnik Photo editing in your browser.

Picasa Google’s photo organisation and editing tool.

DPreview The web’s best guide to cameras. Now Amazon owned.

Reference

CIA Factbook All the data you need on pretty much anywhere.

Wikipedia en.wikipedia.com the gradually growing user-edited encyclopaedia is Still a first port of call on most topics.

Internet Archive/Wayback Machine The web in aspic. Useful for research into how the web used to look.

Metacritic Aggregates reviews of movies and DVDs, TV programmes, music and games

Wikileaks Anonymous source of a huge range ofleaked documents. If you dig, there’s something important there

Search

Google dominates but Bing is challenging, and Yahoo and Microsoft are left in the dust.

Google So good it’s become almost synonymous with search.

Bing  Microsoft would like you to bing it, but its “decision engine” still has a long way to go.

Wolfram Alpha An “answer engine”that delivers when it has the data, but not that easy to use.

Social software

Two years ago it was nascent; now it’s embedded in our culture. Chances are high you’re a member of at least one, and perhaps all, of these sites.

Facebook Still changing and growing to become not just your home on the web, but your ID provider.

LinkedIn Contact sports for business users.

Ning One place to start your own social network – just as Madonna did – though it has yet to really take off.

Travel

Expedia Still the daddy when it comes to travel sites, and particularly good if you can bundle a flight with a hotel and other services.

TripAdvisor Essential reading for the user reviews of hotels, but it now covers much more.

Laterooms Specialises in hotel discounts.

Twitter, and associated

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Twitter has proved itself over and over this year, from the Chinese earthquke to the Mumbai attacks to the Madoff fraud as a vector for news.

Twitter The ur-site, where you can create an identity (or several).

Twitter Tim.es Creates your personal newspaper based on your friend’s tweets.

Twitterfeed Posts blog contents to Twitter.

TwitterCounter Graphs the growth in your followers.

Twitterfall Tracks trending topics; enables custom searches.

Listorious Twitter lists make it simple to follow large groups of Twitter users, and Listorious makes it easy to find the best lists.

Video

YouTube Dominant provider of video content online.

Vimeo Better rights control than YouTube and a cleaner interface

BBC iPlayer The king of the online catchup services.

Hulu The networks fight back with their own video site, which may make the UK in 2010. We hope.

Videojug The motherlode of instructional videos, all in one place.

Virtual worlds

Second Life Continues to exist and is, apparently, still popular, but not the media darling it was.

Entropia Universe Set in a distant future on the untamed planet of Calypso.

Club Penguin Minigame-tastic virtual world for youngkids.

Moshi Monsters “Educational” virtual world for kids.

Visual arts

Saatchi Gallery Gallery, listings and artworks for sale.

Art Daily The first “art newspaper” on the net.

Culture 24 Everything about UK galleries and museums.

Visualisation

Information is Beautiful Creating effective infographics is one of today’s key skills, and on this site, it’s also an art.

Infosthetics.com An archive of some of the finest examples of “information aesthetics”.

DabbleDB Create online databases and analyse them.

 Which essential sites have we missed? Tell us below

 This article was amended on Wednesday 9 December 2009. Picasa is no longer for Windows only; Streetwire.org is no longer operational. These have been corrected.

 

refer to: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2009/dec/09/best-websites-internet

 

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THE CODE GEEKS NETWORK

THE CODE GEEKS NETWORK

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美国人的“度假”和中国人的“旅游”

美国人的“度假”和中国人的“旅游”

旅游”和“度假”有区别么?其实还是有的,只是这个差别有点不大容易用语言文字形容出来,有点只可意会不可言传的意思。

所谓“度假”和“旅游”之辩,其实是个满有趣的话题。当然,华人喜“旅游”,美人喜“度假”,也不可太言之绝对。就好比人们所说“南人食米,北人食面”,也不意味着说南人就不可以食面,北人就不可以食米,只是个大概的爱好取向而已。

关于“旅游”和“度假”的话题,其实牵扯到每个人热衷的生活方式。中国人看老外,总会觉得老外的日子过得很是“滋润”和“潇洒”,不似中国人的生活好像永远是被一个“忙”字占据了一大半,另外的一小半也甩不掉一个“累”字。也难怪,“工作狂”好像是东方国家的一个共性,亚洲四小龙的经济奇迹哪个也离不开国民的辛勤工作,还不要说咱们一衣带水的邻邦日本,日本人工作起来更是带着股不要命的劲头,因此常常发生“过劳死”。

“旅游”和“度假”的微妙差别就在这了。不管是“下车照相,上车睡觉”的赶场式旅游,还是探索体验式的背包客式旅游,出门旅游在国内或多或少总是件“累人、累身、累神”的事情。而所谓的“度假”,听上去就好像是颇为西方上流社会的消遣手段,其实这或多或少是一种误解。美国人的生活方式毕竟和中国人不同,相比之下,应该说美国人更善于把工作和生活区分开来。无关阶层、无关穷富,一年到头可以没有“旅游”,但却不能不“度假”,这才是美国人能把生活过得有张有弛的关键。

简单从学校生活说起。美国每年的两个长假期,一个是暑假,另外一个就是圣诞节时候的寒假。忙了一整年的大学教授们会选择这个时候出门度假,英文叫做On Vacation。一般在这个时候,如果有事情给教授或是导师发邮件的话,在假期内得到邮件回复的可能性基本为零。教授们或许会查看私人邮箱的信件,但是绝对不会去碰学校的公务邮箱,也许有的教授们通常还会在邮箱里添加一个自动回复的设置(On vacation email automatic reply),邮箱在收到邮件时会自动回复说本人现在正在度假中等等。往往越是的名牌教授,便越是如此。一旦进入工作状态,便兢兢业业,细心回答学生提出的疑难问题,一旦进入休假状态,便两耳不闻窗外事,公私分明的很,这就是美国的大学教授。

说到度假,也就不得不提一下恐怕是美国首创的房车。当年的贺岁片《不见不散》里就有这样的镜头,说葛优就买过一辆房车,里面生活设施一应俱全,厨房、卫生间、客厅,麻雀虽小一应俱全。如果说纽约的摩天大楼代表美国的繁荣的话,那房车和牛仔就代表着美国人生活方式中最为传统的一面——自由、潇洒,无拘无束。在美国东部地区生活的人都知道,Interstate95(95号州际公路)是美东地区的交通大动脉,从最北部的缅因州美加边境上一直延伸到美国领土最东南端佛罗里达州的迈阿密,全长超过了3000公里。到了每年的冬天,在这条公路上就可以随处可见各式各样的房车,从北往南开,其实就是住在美国北部寒冷地带的房车一族们移居到温暖的南部地带,形成了房车大迁徙的壮观景象,也是I95公路上的一大景观。美国人的随性和潇洒也透过房车迁徙呈现的淋漓尽致,这恐怕在中国人的眼里看来,大概要算是近乎疯狂的举动了吧。

还有一次,笔者去麻省以南的Connecticut(康州)朋友家一起过圣诞节。康州是美国森林覆盖率最高的州之一,环境优美,也是全美有名的富人州。不少富翁们纷纷在康州购置别墅,每每到了圣诞节或是暑假的时候,就会有大批纽约华尔街高管们,或是华盛顿的高官们来到这里休闲度假。我的这个朋友在一所全美有名的贵族高中教中文。这所高中建在山中,绿树环绕,校园旁边就是一片森林湖泊。校园的设施更是了不得,光网球场地就几乎覆盖了一座小山丘,校园内更是开辟了多个冰球场、橄榄球场、足球场等等,是名副其实的富人学校。

不过最有趣的还不是学校,而是这座学校附近的范围内竟然没有手机信号的覆盖。问过了朋友才知道,原来不是电信公司不想在这个富人区内设置站点,而是这附近的住户们联合要求,坚决抵制通讯商的信号覆盖这一地区。原因是住户们认为,通讯网络、电磁信号会破坏这里的自然环境,破坏他们“度假”的气氛。如果有事情需要联络的话,请使用固定电话,至于手机这种“花花世界、纷纷扰扰”的“俗物”,对不起,立入禁止。这就是美国人的“度假”方式,如果放在国内,没有手机、甚至没有网络,这样的“度假”方式你受得了么?

“度假”是西方人的生活方式,也是西方人的生活哲学,这话一点也不夸张。

细心的话,可以比较一下咱们国家领导人和美国国家领导人的“休假时间安排”。即使忙如美国总统,每年两度的“度假”也必不可少。在美国人看来,总统也是人,总统也是需要私人时间的,就算国务再繁忙,国民也无权剥夺总统“度假”的权利。比如,就在2010年年底,就有不少美国媒体报道说,在大部分美国人因为经济不景气而节衣缩食,众多城市连续遭遇强暴风雪袭击之时,奥巴马总统却在夏威夷“享乐度假”。他的这次圣诞和元旦假期自12月23日开始,为期11天,还有人统计说总统先生这次度假竟然花费了美国纳税人的150多万美元。尽管假期中奥巴马活动低调,尽量避开媒体,还是被媒体拍到与家人和朋友一起参加打篮球、高尔夫球、保龄球及潜水运动,甚至和朋友烧烤的画面。

其实美国历任总统中最热衷于度假的还要属前总统小布什。布什家族在缅因州的海岸旁边拥有豪宅一座,笔者还曾开车从此路过。这里平时大门紧锁,恐怕只有布什家族在炎热的夏季才会偶尔从美国中部的华盛顿来到最北部的缅因州避暑。而身为西部牛仔的小布什最钟爱的度假胜地,毫无疑问还是他的老家——牛仔的发源地——德克萨斯州。在美国总统中,据说肯尼迪喜欢驾驶私人游艇,老布什喜欢待在缅因州的海边别墅,克林顿留恋麻省的马撒葡萄园岛,小布什则喜欢在德州的农场上过老式牛仔生活,这也算是美国总统们的一段段轶事了。

说来还真是有趣的很,就在2001年“9.11”事件前夕,小布什就整个8月份都泡在了德州的农场度假。据说当时还有美国媒体做了民调,显示55%的美国公民认为小布什的30天休假太长了,认为他们的总统“太不把白宫的工作当回事儿了”。不过,小布什似乎并没有把这档子事太放在心上。就在8月底,小布什还一边打高尔夫球一边与记者大谈中东冲突,他大声呼吁:“我要提醒两国人民,你们一定要树立停止暴力的决心。我们也呼吁中东地区的所有领导人,尽一切努力停止暴力冲突。好了,我该打球了。”

十几天后,“9.11事件”爆发了……

看来这美国式的“度假”放在中国,还真的难以让人接受,显得和中国人的认知观念格格不入。细微之处可以追溯到中美两国人的生活习惯、消遣方式,中国人远远达不到美国佬那样的“逍遥”程度。东方式的生活娱乐方式的确和西方存在鸿沟。

而这鸿沟其实完全可以把它置于放大镜下,从“精神文明”上升到“政治文明”的层次。每逢盛夏寒冬,美国总统可以放下国事,从大众视野中消失,公然公开的去潇洒度假,也不会受到太多的舆论指责,这要是在中国简直是天方夜谭。逢年过节,我们的领导们都要下基层,慰问群众,正所谓体恤百姓,与民同乐。老百姓过节休假,领导们可是忙得不可开交,下矿井,去农村,到基层,让人看着都心疼,可这是定例,也是中国人习惯的政治运作模式。倘若某一天,记者们也拍到胡主席、温总理和家人吃烧烤、打高尔夫球……这实在有违“中国国情”,不想也罢,不想也罢。

-end-

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有关梦想

有关梦想

我们都知道“梦想还是要有的,万一实现了呢”这句话。也从各种鸡汤段子中听过“人因梦想而伟大”。几乎每个人都听过。但是,绝大多数人,也仅仅只是想想而已。面对现实,许多人总是有各种各样的理由来逃避自己,用“平淡过一生就好”的籍口碌碌而为。但在强执行力的人眼中,梦想不仅仅是梦想,梦想可以转为理想,理想可以转化为一步步的小目标。

  If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

如果一个人不知道他要驶向哪个码头,那么任何风都不会是顺风。—— 塞涅卡

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Do you want to know how to NOT win in life?

Do you want to know how to NOT win in life?

Do you want to know how to NOT win in life?

I was thinking about why some people remain unsuccessful.

Here are 3 common patterns I noticed:

1) They blame everything on others

For everything bad that happens in life, it’s always your fault. You need to OWN your failures, not pass the blame on others. On the other hand, for everything good, it’s your doing too! So embrace it.

2) They keep doing the same things

If you keep doing the things that you have been doing, you are going to get the results that you have been getting. If these results are not what you want, you NEED to change your approach and routines.

3) They are trapped in a “fixed mindset” mentality

People that do not grow personally, professionally and financially, very often are trapped in what is called “fixed mindset”. This is the misconception that we are born and die with a fixed and immutable personality that can’t improve by picking up new skills. Thus, these people remain static and eventually get outdated.

There you have it, three ways to not win in life. Do you want to kick ass instead?

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