101 Really Useful Websites
The net's not just about eBay and MySpace. The ingenious sites here can transform your life in the real world. Want to be first in line for gig tickets, find free parking or get paid to shop? It's all just a click away
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Swap unwanted DVDs, games, books and CDs on this site that uses credits - "flips" - as currency. Users receive flips when trading items with other Hitflip members. Actually super-simple to use.
Traffic wardens beware - this clever site could put you out of a job. Available on computers and on internet-enabled mobiles, Park-up.com uses interactive links to show where parking spaces are available in London and directs users to the nearest space.
Done something dodgy? Need to sue someone? Make a claim? Make a will? Or get divorced? This site provides all the free legal advice you need, with sections on motoring, housing, employment, personal injury and consumer law. Legal services are also offered.
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.
Dependent on public goodwill, this is a site where people upload promo codes they've come across. Check out this site before buying anything online and you could save, save, save. It features discounts for hundreds of web retailers and products.
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 handwashing soap on a toothbrush. There's a list of cleaning providers, and a discussion forum.
Getting married? Organising a birthday party or conference? This useful venue finder lets you search by type of venue, capacity and location. It's all on offer, from country houses and castles to village halls and auditoriums. Photos and full details of venues are available, along with booking discounts.
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 in England and Wales.
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.
Avoid flash young cowboys by finding a "mature" handyman. It provides experienced and reliable workers for plumbing, electrical work, gardening and carpentry jobs. Best of all, it's an Age Positive employer.
Find a restaurant, takeaway or pub anywhere in Britain. 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.
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.
Post a relationship question on DearCupid.org and wait for replies. Every day, people ask things like: "My partner got me pregnant but was sleeping with his ex the whole time - what do I do?" And: "I love my wife, but I also visit prostitutes once a month - should I tell her?" Or become an agony aunt or uncle and answer questions yourself.
While the biggest email providers allow you to check your emails wherever you are in the world, those who have email accounts with smaller ISPs needn't worry: they also have that option, using third-party sites that offer web-based POP3 access. Mail2web.com is one of the most reliable.
The Health Protection Agency site publishes news on infectious diseases, with a searchable archive. Also includes information on chemical hazards and poisons in conjunction with the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards.
Serious about sport? Planning on running a marathon? The English Institute of Sport site answers questions on physiotherapy, sports medicine, nutrition and psychology, and offers advice on strength and conditioning.
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 the UK. 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.
Provides a hand-picked selection of cultural events in UK and US cities. Content comes from local editors and writers.
Wine reviews and information run by a team of enthusiasts. Publishes thousands of reviews from everyday wine drinkers - giving honest, unbiased opinions - along with information on over 10,000 wines available on UK shelves. Includes a powerful search feature for finding wine by colour, country, supermarket, price, occasion and food type.
Want to get fit and healthy without going to the gym? Do it for free using the greatest fitness and health resource in the world - the US Army. Hooah4Health has everything you need: fully-illustrated weightlifting instructions, old time PT (press-ups, sit-ups, tablemakers, etc), and solid advice on healthy eating and on positive mental attitude.
Looking for a golf break? Or need to find a green in your region? This huge golfing resource lists Britain's best golf courses, giving details of prices, par, and size of the green - along with handy Google Maps so you can see exactly where a course is located. Also lists accommodation, tuition, and competitions.
Whenever you have to fill in your email address as part of an online signup process, Emailias lets you create a new, temporary address which automatically forwards the mail to your normal address. Then, if you start getting marketing messages or spam, you'll know how your address was obtained, and you'll be able to cancel that temporary address.
For anyone too lazy - or disorganised - to sell their unwanted goods online, this site will be a godsend. An "eBay facilitator" that sells items on the vendor's behalf and completes all the admin (photos, postage) for a 30 per cent commission. The really idle can pay extra to have their items picked up direct.
"Video says it better", says the strapline at springdoo.com. If you're tooled up with a microphone and/or a webcam, you can use its service to send voice or video greetings free via the net, rather than spending precious time wrestling with a Qwerty keyboard and subsequently spellchecking your emails.
An online mecca for travel health information, this site allows you to search vaccination info by destination and browse guides on making water safe to drink and travelling with young children and pets.
Guide from Washington University on dressing for interviews. Has photos of men and women looking good and bad, and somewhere in between, and advice on whether to wear a tie. It even includes employers' comments. One accounting firm describes a guy wearing dark trousers, shirt and tie, but no jacket, as "a little electronic store salesman looking".
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 of Britain. 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.
Find out the difference is between Scotch single malt and Irish whiskey. Discover other bourbons besides Jack Daniels, including Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace and Elijah Craig. There's also extensive tasting notes from connoisseurs of the golden brew, giving you an excellent idea of what to expect.
Migraines can be seriously debilitating and can lay you up for days. Migraine Action Association's site offers advice on identifying what triggers your migraine and how to recognise the early warning signs of an attack. Plus information on treatment, including tried and tested treatments, those in development and complementary medicines. Plus discussion forums.
Lots of useful info for keeping your PC running smoothly. There's detailed instructions on how to defragment your hard drive, a must to keep your machine running fast. Plus handy tips and tricks for FireFox, Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, along with game cheats for Tomb Raider, Delta Force and Battlezone.
Got a problem and need an answer? Log on to this community weblog, post your poser then await advice from the "hive mind". Current topics awaiting advice include what to do when a Mac shows the "blue screen of death", what financial aid is available to students and why cats follow you into the bathroom.
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.
Everything you need to know about styling your hair. Choose from 2,500 styles to find one that suits you or the occasion, and use the virtual model to see how the styles look.
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's even step-by-step videos.
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.
This site keeps a database of wireless hotspots in all areas of the UK, and whether they're free or subscription-based.
Add Imified to your friends/buddy list, and you can set yourself reminders, add diary appointments, post to your blog and all manner of other things.
Spinvox's technology converts voicemails and memos into text messages or emails, with surprising accuracy. Set up your mobile to receive voicemails as texts, and, if you hate texting, you can let Spinvox send spoken messages out as SMS or email memos.
Getting pictures and or videos off your phone and uploaded to a destination was laborious - until Shozu came along. It enables you to upload images to various online destinations including Flickr and YouTube.
List your favourite bands, films and actors to receive a network of recommendations based on these preferences.
Provides user-submitted "how to" videos on subjects from how to defend yourself against a gun attack, open a beer bottle with a piece of paper, install programs on your computer, and lots of cookery.
A time-saving, fun alternative to haggling on the phone, this offers hotels around the UK that are open to offers.
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.
Search for titles and authors through over 125 million new, used, rare, out of print and international books and compare reviews on this site that's been going strong for 10 years.
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.
Fill in your likes and dislikes and this will notify you when your favourite band is coming to town, lets you know what's happening where you live today, this week, or this month, and you can share these events with your friends on your viewable calendar.
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.
Read about a great little Shiraz in your paper but can't remember what it was called? Log on here to read about wines that have been reviewed and recommended.
This mail-forwarding provides you with a unique American address so that the US sites 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.
An absolute essential if you struggle with imperial to metric, miles to kilometres and Celsius to Fahrenheit.
Collectors should check out this site as a more focused alternative to eBay. With auction categories that include pocket watches, minerals, stamps and meteorites there's tons of treasures to buy.
Patient.co.uk is packed with easy to access information from doctors.
Turn cast-offs into cash - or find the dress of your dreams - on this site where you can buy and sell new and nearly new men's, women's and children's clothes.
Looking for a plumber in Peckham? How about a builder in Bradford? This excellent site is a directory of tradespeople, each of whom has been vetted and checked.
Ditch the death sticks before the 1 July deadline for smoking in enclosed public spaces. This NHS site has all the information a would-be non-smoker needs. Another good site to visit is Cancer Research's www.sponsormetoquit.org.
Buying a cheap electrical appliance may seem like a bargain but how much will it cost you to run it? Sust-it.net works out much power your appliances use - and how much it will cost you to run them.
Online maps are big news right now and while it may not have had the same exposure as Google Maps, this Java-powered site is an excellent alternative.
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 site's Holiday Planner feature helps tourists find destinations that match their exact requirements.
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.
This online parking marketplace will help you find a spot, whether it's a garage or unused parking space. You can also list any spare parking you have available for rent.
If you fancy messing about on the water, try the Royal Yachting Association's site. There's also advice for surfing, motorboats and inland waterways.
Type in your destination and setting off point and Skyscanner will come up with as many options as possible on your desired date of departure. And show you how much your chosen trip will cost.
If you haven't heard about this site yet it's high time you did. The Internet Movie Database is the place to end arguments about who has been in which film and what the name of that actor is.
A free website providing you with direct access to a consortium of high-calibre professionals who have been quality-checked prior to being listed. Lawyers, accountants, designers and financial advisers.
A cashback website that pays its members a percentage of money earned when they purchase goods and services through the links on the site. Start getting paid from the minute you sign up.
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.
Financial advice, consumer revenge and ready-made bank charge letters to print off and keep.
Oxford University Press experts offer advice on grammar and English usage. Ask what comes after once, twice, thrice... Or a word like "siblings" for nieces and nephews.
Very handy resource for finding country telephone codes around the globe - covers everywhere from Afghanistan to Ascension Island. It also lets you search every online telephone directory in the world (over 700 directories). Originally set up for ex-pats, this will come in handy for anyone calling abroad or if you're travelling.
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 any UK mobile 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 recepient won't know who it's from.
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.
The ultimate boredom-busting site that lists thousands and thousands of events in the UK and worldwide. Search by date, country, region and type of event to find a dream day out anywhere in the world. Free, fast and simple to navigate.
If you use VOIP applications - such as Skype, and MSN - to chat to people using your computer, fring.com offers a client you can install on your mobile phone; this allows you to talk to people around the world via your handset for free or at substantially reduced rates.
Most modern mobile phones have the facility to send email messages, but setting it all up can involve intensive fiddling and hours spent on the phone to technical support. sms2email offer a solution in their suite of services: simply text the email address and message to 07766 404 142, and they'll take care of the rest.
Either paste in text, or the address of a webpage you need translating, and Google will do the work. It translates to and from a range of languages, including French, Chinese and Korean; the results are always grammatically awkward, but give the gist.
Offers support, information, friendship and advice to anyone raising kids. There's an ask the experts section where you can get professional advice and opinion. Plus discussion forums to forge new friendships and feel less out on a limb.
This website searches hundreds of other sites in real time for the best travel deals available. Kayak lets you look at a full range of airlines, hotels and car rental agencies quickly and efficiently based on the exact criteria you select. The people who run the site are dedicated to making it fast, fun and cool - which is just what it is.
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.
Instead of picking up the phone to make an international call at eye-watering cost, just go to a website, type in the phone number and chat for free. And it works on any computer, private or public. You're limited to 10 free minutes a day if you're not a member, but signing up gives you a wealth of extra features.
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.
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.
Cat got fleas? Horse got colic? Or your dog obese? Visit the Blue Cross site for free downloadable leaflets giving pet care advice on everything from health and behavioural problems to feeding and euthanasia. Oh... and you can, if you wish, make an online donation to the Blue Cross, which is one of Britain's oldest animal charities.
If you're stuck on a DIY issue this site provides an interactive question and answer service with qualified tradesmen who do this kind of thing for a living and can put you on the right track. But if you're ready to give up altogether there's a countrywide "locate a specialist" search tool.
Volunteer chefs answer your questions about cooking. If you need help on making that soufflé rise or need to know whether chilli should have kidney beans in or not, this is the place to ask.
Get advice and answers to anything. BlurtIt has a team of researchers and professionals on hand to help you with everything from careers, health and beauty, and relationships, to shopping, education and genealogy. You can also try your hand at being an advisor too. If you're any good you'll be featured on the home page as Star of the Day or as a Weekly Top Blurter.
Covers everything from creating a home office to how mortgages work, along with solving such quandaries as whether antibacterial soap is any better than regular soap. Also lists essential gadgets and how to get the most from your digital camera. Plus fascinating, but less practical topics, such as how Black Hawk helicopters work.
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.
If you're getting married, this is the site for you, offering help on what music to choose on the special day, along with a list of the top 20 cost-saving tips and a comparison of traditional vs modern weddings. And there's expert advice on questions such as: "My nine- and 12-year-olds are not invited to my sister's wedding... I feel it is rude to exclude them - what do you think?"
Childhood milk allergy is an increasing problem - 3 per cent of children are now thought to suffer from it. There's advice on the symptoms to look out for and how best to deal with adverse reactions. There's an 'Ask the experts section', and a clinical diary that helps you monitor symptoms.
Download subway maps onto your iPod - everywhere from London, New York and Paris to Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo. Set up by a designer who says: "I thought the idea of putting my subway map onto my iPod was cool. Why should I keep it all to myself? If it's helpful to me, then why not to the rest of you?"
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.
Having a baby for the first time can be incredibly daunting - if not downright scary. Whether you are trying for a baby, pregnant or already a parent, the BabyWorld site answers all of your questions and offers advice from a group of resident experts made up of doctors, midwives, health visitors and fertility experts. The website also has discussion forums and pregnancy diaries.
Tracks flight paths over London and other parts of the country afflicted by aircraft thundering overhead. House prices are marked down in locations on flight paths. Use this tool to avoid moving to such places or to pick up a bargain.
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