Thursday, April 04, 2013

Useful Website Round Up



Although many of your friends might disagree, the internet consists of far more useful resources than the pictures of cats and the virulent political opinions that often clog your Facebook news feed.

In fact, there is quite a lot of useful information available on the web - not all of which is available through the databases and other resources offered by libraries.

This blog post will attempt to point patrons to a few useful websites that can save you some time or maybe even help you to keep a little more money in your pocket book. (Possibly a lot more money in your pocket book.) There is also a chance that some of the sites below may provide some information that will  help to improve the quality of your life.

Please leave a comment below if you have any additional suggestions.

Lifehacker
Lifehacker is a blog with the motto "Tips and downloads for getting things done." The site is updated eighteen times each weekday with posts (or "hacks") that can increase your daily productivity and improve the quality of your life. Lifehacker covers everything from finding a good doctor, brewing the perfect cup of coffee, and getting your home organized to handling a co-worker who slacks off, improving your ability to tell a story, and how to deal with negative people. It is definitely a website worth checking out on a regular basis.

Cool Tools
Cool Tools has been around for many years and is currently being curated by Boing Boing's founder Mark Frauenfelder. Cool Tools is simply a website in which its readers submit their favorite tools - which the website defines as "any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true." The site features categories (such as workshop, kitchenvehicles, and gardens) that can help you identify new tools that may prove useful in your daily life. This is an especially useful website for coming up with gift ideas for the person that has everything.

AskMetaFilter
AskMetaFilter is a crowdsourcing forum in which members can pose questions that will be answered by  other members - or what the site refers to as the "hive mind." There are hundreds of really bright people that frequent the site and can answer (or provide suggestions) for all kinds of questions - in fact, I even consulted the site when putting together this blog post. Some of my favorite past questions from the site include: What are the most useful paper catalogs? What would MacGyver pack in his survial kit?  What single book is the best introduction to your field (or specialization within your field) for laypeople? There are also plenty of questions related to careers, travel, relationships, as well as financial matters on the site. Much of the site's usefulness can be found by conducting a search of previous questions (there are tens of thousands of them).

Coursera
Coursera is an amazing resource in which you can sign-up for free college classes from esteemed institutions of higher learning such as Duke, Stanford, Emory, and Yale. Four courses have recently been recommended as credit worthy by American Council on Education - so it may not be too long before you can get actual college credit for free courses taken online at the site. Participants can take courses in computer science, the humanities, engineering, economics, and mathematics. All courses include homework assignments as well as tests and participants will receive a grade for their efforts as well as a certificate of completion.

Instructables
Instructables is the ultimate do-it-yourself website. It offers step-by-step user-submitted guides for thousands of different projects that include building robots, arduino, making toys, building furniture, Star Wars projects, canning and preserving foods, and much, much more. They also present interesting contests for submitters - for example, there is currently a bacon themed contest in which all of the eligible submissions have bacon as a main ingredient in a recipe or as the theme of a project. This is a great resource for science projects and summer activities for kids as well as adding some great personal touches (or technologies!) to your home or apartment.

YouTube
Everyone is familiar with this website for its entertainment value, but are you aware that there a thousands of instructional videos on the site for everything from car repairs and building decks to make-up tutorials and hairstyling?  My secret to finding worthwhile instructional YouTube videos for repairs around your home is to seek out the tutorials that have been made by companies that sell replacement parts. I recently replaced the ignitor in my gas oven and this video made the installation a less than fifteen minute process (and I found the part cheaper from a different company than the one that created the video).

Also, a few honorable mentions: FlyLady, WirecutterOpen CultureOne Good Thing, Get Rich Slowly, Ana White, Ubuweb, and Apartment Therapy.

No comments: