We love a good website on Pocket-lint. In fact, we love it so much that we tell you about a new one each day in a feature known as Website of the Day, just in case you've managed to miss it all this time. With the year nearly a-close like a door that's, er, not quite shut, we've taken a look back at the very finest that 2010 has had to offer.
So, while you prepare yourself for a big old blow out, sit at home enjoying the finest company there is - your own, or stare blank though a hungover haze at this page the morning after, here are the best websites of the year. Enjoy. Oh, and a very happy new one to y'all.
The takeaway coffee cups most outlets provide are destined for landfill. Often this isn’t because they can’t be recycled, it’s just we tend not to recycle them, or you can’t find the right recycling facilities in most places. One funky solution to this wasteful problem can be found at www.keepcup.com. Here you can design your own stylish coffee cup to take into your local coffee bar and fill with your favourite brew. There are three sizes and a nifty designer tool so that you can customise your cup. Perfect stocking fillers at these prices too.
Regular readers will know that we're not especially big fans of traipsing round the high streets at this, or any other time of year. We'd much rather do our shopping online. You get better choice, better value, and often, these days, better service too. So, we’ve all heard of Etsy but if you’d rather go British then www.ukhandmade.co.uk is a collective site showcasing the best of up and coming designer-makers in the UK. You can get some seriously unique gifts here, and, as the name of the site implies, it's all handmade.
When we heard about www.sedogo.com, we were pleased to see such a bold statement: "Create your future and connect with others to make it happen". Now let's see what it means...Basically, you fill in your life goals, then see who wants to do the same things and hopefully get together to share the experience. A great idea, and as anybody who's ever tried to organise a stag do will tell you, getting like minded people to agree on a "when" and a "where" is no mean feat. This should make organising and sharing your life adventures a breeze. It's social networking for the adventurous of spirit. It's brand new this one too, so well worth watching.
Trainstalker/People of public transit
It’s impossible to say which of these is better, largely because they’re the same. Our quiet obsession with train travel continues, but rather than useful information, this site travels the very, very dark side of public transport. And no, we don't mean the Circle Line. This is about comic voyeurism and social commentary at best and serious sociopathic dysfunction and unnerving pubic behaviour at worst. It's a collection of sneakily captured candid images of fellow passengers on our rail and bus networks at Trainstalker or People of public transit for the US. Is it funny? In places, yes. Is it creepy? Absolutely and throughout. Just hope you don’t chance by a snap your yourself unconscious with your face sliding down the Bakerloo line perspex.
The comings and goings of the Edinburgh Zoo's penguin enclosure have caused something of a craze. The penguins are absolutely loving it too. It's known to get a bit parky north of the border from time to time, but when it starts to drop to minus 25, your know the Antarctic members of Scotland's finest menagerie are going to be getting all nostalgic about their homeland. Penguin Cam lets you watch the little critters at play with the live webcam feed, but try to do it early in the day - the site helpfully points out that it doesn’t have night vision, so you won't see much after the sun goes down. Makes you wonder what they might be getting up to after hours.
Buying and selling property is such a painful, drawn-out process that getting your hands on your cash can be rather convoluted. So, the smart money is usually to be found invested in good, old-fashioned, shiny, gorgeous, glorious gold. Sure it fluctuates like any commodity, but generally speaking you're highly unlikely to lose every penny you invest. But investing in gold has always been something for the city slickers and financially savvy, right? Wrong. www.bullionvault.com is an online bullion broker who welcomes small, private investors with open arms and makes the whole process as easy as buying groceries, let alone a precious metal. You set your buy and sell prices and just sit back and watch your investment (hopefully) flourish. The only downside is that you don't actually get to keep your gold in your living room. Probably for the best though.
Love Food Hate Waste
‘Tis the season of excess, but that doesn’t mean we have to be wasteful too. This site, www.lovefoodhatewaste.com aims to help us all cook less, plan better and spend less – while still eating well. Best of all, it’ll tell you what to do with all those seasonal leftovers, without having to resort to turkey and mince pie curry. The bigger picture is that, globally, we waste far too much food, particularly here in the so-called developed world. This campaign is trying to educate us decadent westerners to the error of our ways and start farming, shopping and consuming more responsibly. It could save us all a small fortune too. Bon appetite.
Probably most of us have dreamt about being able to teleport ourselves around the place but alas, we can’t just click our fingers and be whisked off to the other side of the planet. Or can we? Now, thanks to the catchy little URL web.mit.edu/~jmcmicha/www/globegenie we can. Sort of. Hit the "teleport" button and you’ll be dropped off somewhere random on the Google Map Street View. You can explore your new surroundings or hit the button again to go somewhere new. In our experience you’re more likely to be dropped at the end of a cul-de-sac in Pontefract than at the Great Pyramid of Giza, but that’s half the fun. Happy travelling.
Strictly No Photography
This site is for all the stuff you’re not allowed to photograph. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You’re visiting somewhere famous for its visual treats, or somewhere with a bit of history, but you’re not allowed to use your camera. Well, some people clearly take those little prohibition signs as something of a challenge and this is a collection of artworks, scenes and various other bits and pieces that you’re not supposed, or allowed, to take pictures of. From candid portraits of every day life to a drive-by shot of Robert Mugabe’s office, www.strictlynophotograhy.com is a fascinating glimpse at the world from a slightly guarded perspective. Power to the pixel, people.
In B Flat
B flat really is a gorgeous sound, and a quick trawl of the net finds that it’s responsible for some weird and wonderful things. It’s apparently the chosen key of black holes and bumble bees and those dreaded vuvuzelas are in B flat too. It drives alligators nuts and, believe it or not, it’s the exact note that the rotational speed of the Milky Way translates to. Go figure. All we know is that it’s melancholic, almost haunting in its aural beauty, and this collaborative video piece, inbflat.net, proves the point brilliantly. It’s a collection of video clips of people playing all kinds of instruments in the key of B flat. It doesn’t matter when you start each clip, or in what order, you end up with a beautiful ensemble piece, which is different every time you visit. We don’t know anything about music theory, so we’ve no idea how it works, but we do know you can spend hours here, transfixed by what you see and hear.
Scale of the Universe
The universe is big. Really big. It's so unfathomably, massively huge, that simple words can't really describe it. And numbers don't make much sense of it either. So it's helpful that this site, primaxstudio.com/stuff/scale_of_universe has put the sheer immenseness of our universe into pictures. With this clever graphic interface, you can start with something relatively familiar size-wise, like an ant or a microchip, and then scale up or down to see where we fit into the absolute hugeness of things.
YouTube Time Machine
YTTM.TV is a place where you can relive some favourite moments from genres such as: video games, sports, movies, music and current events with uploaded videos sectioned by the year they happened or shown. The site also allows you to upload your own video favourites as well as share across the usual social networks.
With the advent of social networking came the outlet for the masses to vent their collective spleen and generally go digging about for those little nuggets of internet gold to share with anybody who'll listen. Pulling it all together is where the aggregator-type sites come in. Paper.li, specifically aimed at the Twitter and Facebook communities, pulls together users' favourite feeds, tweets, trends and articles and presents them just like an online newspaper - one edition for every user. The newsy feel of www.paper.li is familiar without being cliched and we like this one a lot.
It is said that travel broadens the mind, but more than likely the more places you see and the further you go it'll turn out that things are pretty much the same wherever you go. Far better then, to put the kettle on and watch the world from the comfort of your sofa. Atlas Obscura is a, "compendium of the world's wonders, curiosities and esoterica" - a catalogue, if you will, of all the places that often get left out of the travel guide books. So whatever you're looking to see on you travels, or perhaps you just have a passing interest in what's out there, this makes for an excellent guide to all the oddities the world has to offer.
How to worry friends and inconvenience people
The world’s going bonkers and we’re clearly not the only people thinking it’s clearly full of madness and maddening situations. www.worryfriends.com has become indispensable, as it’s full to the rafters with great ideas on how to exact some small manner of revenge on the crazy world around us. If you take some small pleasure in making people around you just a little embarrassed or uncomfortable, you’re going to love this. Some of the suggestions are genius in their mischievousness, and some of them might get you arrested, but if your sense of humour stretches to the darker, subversive and slightly more absurd side, you might appreciate the sentiments on display here.
Circle the cat
Anybody who knows cats wiill know that they have an uncanny knack for getting into areas where you’d rather they didn’t go. Try as you might, you’ll never pen them in, and this simple game proves the point brilliantly. Try to encircle the cat with dark dots before he escapes off the page. Sounds easy, right? But just like in real life, this kitty is smarter than your average person. It’s also a little ironic that you’ll spend your time chasing a cat with a mouse. Don’t expect to get too much work done know you’ve met Circle the Cat.
Perfectly timed photos
Just like great comedy, photography is all about timing. This is a collection of gorgeously timed snaps, which throw their subjects into weird and wonderful scenarios that users can add captions to. Our favourite (among so many) is prince Charles "reaching" for a female army recruit. Perfectly timed photos.
Scroll Clock is one of the quirkiest Chrome experiments we’ve seen. It’s a real time clock made up of scroll bars. That’s all it does, but we still love it. And if you’re one of these people with a foot in both camps, so to speak, and have a Mac and a PC, you’ll noticed that the scroll bars matches your OS. Cool, no?
Is there anything more annoying? You’re watching a movie and up pops that face again. You know the one: that bloke, whatsisname, him, you know, that guy! Searching online won’t help if you don’t know his name though will it? Thank goodness for this site, then. It’s full of pictures of all those character actors who definitely fall into the "that guy" category. From now on you can watch your movies in peace.
So, what would you do for a fiver? It doesn’t go as far as it once did, admittedly. But from little acorns do mighty oaks grow, as they say, so, on Fiverr you can offer your services, whatever they might be, and charge $5 for it. Our favourite so far is the guy offering to ignore you completely for $5.
My David Cameron
We try to avoid politics here at Pocket-lint – at least until some bright spark introduces a gadget tax anyway. But this one’s really tickled us. It’s the inevitable online response to the Conservative poster campaign that was, which, let’s face it, featured some of the dodgiest Photoshop work we’ve seen in a while. As always, the blogosphere can do much, much better. The election may have been and gone but My David Cameron still makes us smile.
My Daddy Cooks
My Daddy Cooks is one of the nicest online success stories we’ve heard in ages. Stay-at-home dad Nick Coffer started filming his cookery sessions with his young son Archie. When he started posting the clips online, Archie’s enthusiasm and cheeky personality soon built up quite a following. The food they prepare together is perfect for any modern family - fun, nutritious and highly entertaining too.
Let’s face it – kittens and puppies are so last year. And “celebrity” pin-ups are a bit eighties aren’t they? Hollyoaks babes? It used to be that actors were hired for their ability rather than their, ahem, talents. Good to see that somebody agrees and has set up the human calendar. Every day the person holding the correct date is the centre of attention for everybody else. We love this and it’s become our default calendar for the year. There’s also a Human Clock worth checking out as well.
As we all blow the dust off our keyboards after a long weekend, it can be difficult to know where to start again. Sites like 200 Linx are a big help. It groups together all the useful links under each topic, so if your web-surfing skills are a bit rusty, it’ll give you some handy starting points. It’s region specific to make sure the publications are relevant and you might even discover some new places you’ve never been to while you’re there.
Wow. That's definitely the first word that comes to mind when you look at Jeffrey Martin's incredible panorama of London. Shot using a SLR camera with a 400mm lens, the 360-degree photo of London is the the largest spherical panoramic photo in the world. It's 80-gigapixels, that's a resolution of 400,000 x 200,000 pixels, and if you were to print it at 300dpi you'd need a piece of paper measuring 35 x 17 metres. The level of detail is simply incredible, you can zoom right in to street level and see people's faces and there are a number of nice features on the 360 Cities site, including a landmark locator, a virtual tour, overlapped mapping and a treasure hunt competition. The photo is free to view over at www.360cities.net. Hold on to your socks.
If you have any websites you think should have made it into the list, then let us know via the Feedback Form and we'll be sure to feature it in 2011.