Miles Mendoza's Top 20 Websites

Former_MSE_ArchnaFormer_MSE_Archna Senior ResearcherFormer MSE
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MSE Staff
The Top 20 'best ever, time wasting, addictive, sit on the internet when you've nothing better to do, and make the hours tick by without spending any money' sites.

Miles Mendoza, of Radio 2's Website of the Day fame, has compiled his Top 20 Fun Time-wasting or useful sites for this Christmas to New Year break, from his 'Website Of The Day' book (a deliberate plug as it's a fun book, Miles has given his time to do this, and included as one of the top 15 overall is this site!)

Route-planning for pedestrians. You can calculate the probable duration of your walk and even find out how many calories you’ll burn off and how much Carbon Dioxide you’ve avoided by walking! Currently covers London, Edinburgh and Birmingham with the rest of the UK to follow by late 2008
A YouTube video style site specialising in handy short films teaching you how to do the stuff they didn’t teach you at school (get a perfect wet shave, tie a bow tie, carve a roast dinner etc).

Check out the festive section of short films to help you cope with any aspect of Christmas and New Year – From dancing at office parties to removing mulled wine stains, curing indigestion, wrapping unusually shaped presents, or getting in shape. This year I’ve featured plenty of sites devoted to tackling climate change. All of them are admirable, lots are highly interactive, but too many of them can be a bit po-faced. Atypically, this green site manages to convey an environmental message with a good dose of fun and creativity. The site asks you to do a different green thing each month, and encourages you to do that green thing with help from a little video clip, or game or audio download.

For example, November’s green thing asked you to ‘turn your lights off early and have some fun in the dark.” - This month it’s “Buy an old thing, not a new thing. Until recently, I’d found that doing grocery shopping online could be a frustrating experience, partially because the supermarket sites can be slow and tricky to navigate and partially because (until now) no single price comparison site had enabled you to compare the cost of your weekly shop at all four of the big online supermarkets.

This is what I’d been waiting on for several years – an easy-to-use, free price comparison service for online supermarkets. It promises to save you money on your weekly shop and it’s easier to navigate than any of the supermarkets’ own sites. Well worth a look.

For many more grocery tips (including how to best use Mysupermarket) read the full article: Cheap Supermarket Shopping. Unlike MySpace or Bebo, this is social networking for grown-ups, where you can keep up with existing real-life friends, family and colleagues. Whether it has the potential to remain popular for longer than competing sites remains to be seen, but for now, millions of users who would normally have better things to do with their time are finding it hugely addictive! This launched quietly in the summer as a trial service offering UK licence fee payers free Windows downloads of BBC TV shows. Just before Christmas, the service expanded to include ‘Click To Play’ programmes – allowing you to watch immediately online on any Windows, Mac or Linux computer. Basically as long as you are in the UK, if your computer can play YouTube videos, it should also be able to play any iPlayer Click To Play videos with no additional software.

Around 250 shows from all BBC TV channels are made available each week, and you have 7 days after the original broadcast to watch each show. Zoomy-inny maps go 3D! Just like Google Earth, but with this there’s no download required and you get to choose from an overhead view of your house, or satellite views from North, South, East or West Every time I think I’ve exhausted all the good wedding sites, I find a new one which makes some aspect of organising the big day even easier. So Hats Off to Wedding Mapper which lets you use Google Maps to create a personalised zoomable map for your wedding day.

Use virtual map pins to mark the church, reception venue, local hotels and guest houses, airport or train station and any other location that will be useful to your guests. Guests can click on any location on the map and enter their post-code to get personalised driving directions from their own front door to the wedding.

For tips on how to slash the cost of getting married, read the article: How To Have A MoneySaving Wedding One for your New Year resolutions: Billed as ‘the UK's biggest fitness and motivation site’, there’s a lot here to appeal to both committed fit-freaks and textbook couch potatoes. For those (myself included) who find reaching for the remote control to be energetic work, the Virtual Workout invites you to choose an activity (from treadmill to rowing via aerobics or squash) and enter your weight to see how many calories you’d burn off if you were to try that particular form of exercise for half an hour.

For those more serious about getting or staying fit, you’ll find loads of practical (and quirky) tips on getting started, staying motivated, avoiding dietary temptation and keeping exercise fun and varied. There are podcasts to inspire (and to listen to while exercising), a space where you can create your own fitness blog or journal, and a bunch of entertaining quizzes, surveys and personality tests.

Read the Gym Cost Cutting and Vigin, Canons, LA Fitness Loophole article for tips on getting down the gym on the cheap! My favourite online game of 2007: Here you’re invited to challenge one of the most influential minds of the 20th century in the brutal sport of arm wrestling (to a soundtrack of dramatic orchestral music).

To beat the a Terry Gilliam style cartoon representation of the great thinker you’ll need to hammer away on your keyboard as fast as you can – and dodge his verbal taunts (“Fine, let’s see you revolutionise modern thought then” or “My beard’s better than yours”) Billed as a “parent-to-parent advice-opedia”, Minti is a parenting site which really plays to the strengths of the web in 2007. The bedrock of the site is advice written by parents for other parents, but it works by taking the best features of MySpace and Wikipedia and tweaking them to deliver a vibrant online community for parents and familes.

If you just want to search or browse the extensive advice database you’ll find articles on almost every aspect of child-care, parenting and family life, from sleep to nappies, tantrums, teething and much more. But the site really comes into its own when you register and create a MySpace-style profile page (complete with photos and blogs) for your own family. Then you can befriend and interact with other families and parents, rate and rank articles for usefulness, add your own comments to existing advice or submit your own articles. Another specialist social network site – this is myspace or facebook for foodies. Highlight of the site is Roger The Recipe Robot – You fill in an online taste survey about favourite ingredients and styles of cuisine; Your answers help Roger the robot predict which recipes will be to your liking – and Roger’s predictions will become more accurate each time you rate a recipe on the site.

You can film your own recipe demos and upload them to a YouTube style Recipe TV area, or mark your favourite food shops or restaurants on a customised Google Map. Or use the Recipe Stumbler to explore recipes related to your favourite foods.

Also, take a look at the OldStyle MoneySaving Forum Board for top tips on how to make scrumptious food on the cheap. This impressive free service can be set up to automatically backup all the numbers in your mobile phone's address book to a secure online locker. No software or cables are needed and the service claims to work for 90% of current UK handsets - over 150 different models.

Samsung and LG owners should be aware that the Mobyko service does not fully support their handsets (but they - and all other mobile users - can still use the service to store text messages, photos & videos taken from their mobile) You'll doubtless already be aware of Wikipedia - which now has over 7 million articles and ranks among the top twenty most-visited websites worldwide. If Wikipedia is a living, breathing encyclopaedia with as much detail on popular culture as it has on science, history and philosophy, then WikiHow is like an instruction book for everyday life.

WikiHow's 18 thousand (and counting) 'How To' guides aim to explain and demystify the kind of bizarre but routine challenges or chores we face every day - from tiling a shower, to wiggling your ears via playing guitar like Eddie Van Halen. Keep an eye on this one - it's well on the way to becoming indispensable. One of my more addictive discoveries of 2007 - At the top of the homepage is a box labelled “What do you think is the Best Stuff in the world?”
You’ll need to register to start adding ‘best things’. (Which is worth doing as you then get to save and share a page showcasing all your favourite stuff - mine is here too).

Type one of your favourite things into the box and then (optionally) add a photo and category for your newly chosen best thing. If it’s already somebody else’s best thing, you’ll be able to see who else rates it and what other things that person approves of. Make sure you don’t have anything important to do before playing on this site – you’ll be hooked in no time! Enter your current postcode and the postcode you're moving to, plus the date you aim to move, and the site will create a personalised Move Planner. Your individual Move Calendar and To Do list will remind you of everything you need to do between now and the day you move in. The service includes a database of surveyors and removal firms, plus interactive templates for change of address letters and an email reminder service for all the tasks in your move schedule.

For loads more tips on house selling & moving read the Free House Price Valuations article. The government's new CO2 emission calculator surpasses expectations with a beautifully designed site that shows you exactly how much CO2 you produce as an individual or a household. You can see your results in relation to the national average, and the site produces a detailed personal action plan to help you reduce your emissions. Launched in September to promote the Dylan: His Greatest Songs compilation, this site gives all Bob Dylan lovers the chance to create a customised version of the iconic Subterranean Homesick Blues video. Simply type in your choice of message to have your words appear on Bob’s giant cue cards. When you’re happy with the results, you can send the video to a friend. In the summer, regular users of sites like Facebook or MySpace noticed a flurry of unfamiliar Simpsons cartoons replacing their friends’ photos. This was all down to this excellent feature on the official site for The Simpsons Movie, which lets you create a customised Simpsons character in your own image, add it to any web page or blog or email to a friend. This is designed to give you much more control over the direct mail you receive: “ is a new service that has been set up specifically to make sure that you only get the mail that you want. simply provides an automated email or letter service that sends a request to stop processing your data to your chosen companies - all at the click of your mouse.”

There are three levels of service – It’s free to stop *all* mail from companies you have never dealt with, or to print out letters to send to any of the UK’s top 400 mailers. If you want the site to email top mailers on your behalf, you’ll pay a flat fee of £4.95



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