Gems on the Web: Some Unique Sites
Internet Gems: You May Find One or Two that Really Sparkles
"What do you do all day on the Internet?"
I've heard that question more than once.
You see, since retiring I spend the bulk of my day on my laptop searching, reading and learning. For some reason people think I'm goofing off. (I do do that a little, as my wife can attest.)
What they don’t fully understand is I have this whole wide world opened to me via the Internet. And it's my new hobby. I enjoy surfing the net, then writing and sharing what I've learned via this site and elsewhere.
There's so much on the Web sometimes its hard to locate the right site. I have an extensive system of bookmarks. When I find a unique, helpful, interesting website I bookmark it for another day. Well today’s that day. The day I share a handful of these hidden gems with you.
Here are a few:
Avoid the Trap of Customer Service Voice Mail With this Website
► GetHuman: When you call a company do you hate dealing with the seemingly endless loop of Voice Mail commands and choices? This website will end your misery. Rather than searching for the phone number for customer service on a company’s website or using your browser to find that phone number, go to GetHuman instead.
They claim to have over 8,000 companies in their data base. This website actually does several things for you:
- It lists the company’s phone number.
- It tells you the tricks to avoid getting stuck in Voice Mail hell and how to quickly speak to a human being.
- It gives you information on Customer Service’s typical wait time
- It informs you of other ways you can reach customer service, such as chat or email.
Avoiding the traps of Voice Mail is its major feature. Let's use United Airlines as an example. Here's what GetHuman says about avoiding United Airlines' Voice Mail tree: “When the voice starts talking, press ‘0,’ then press ‘0’ again when he continues talking. Then say, ‘Yes,’ if your reservation is within the United States or ‘No,’ if it is international."
Another great service of GetHuman is you can click a button on the website and you’ll be connected with LucyPhone, which will wait on the line for you. After connecting with LucyPhone, you hang up and they’ll call you back when a customer service representative finally picks up the phone.
This is a free service like everything available on the site.
Website Turns Your Phone Number into Words
Ever have trouble remembering a phone number? Oh I know they're all in your smartphone.
But what happens if you misplace your phone and you need a number in an emergency? What do you do then? I don't know about you, but I don't get along with numbers. I've had trouble remembering a special phone number. That was until I found this website. Now I have memorized a little phrase, instead of series of numbers.
The site's quick and easy. Enter a 7 to 10 digit phone number, click the Show Me button and it displays the words and phrases that can be made from your phone number.
PhoneSpell also increases your number by one extra digit, thus expanding the possible words that can be made. (An extra digit at the end shouldn’t prevent you from reaching the phone number. If it does you can remember not to dial it.)
Do You Know How Many Different Types of Animals in an Animal Cracker Box? The BigSite Does
Site Offers “Amazing Facts"
► BigSiteOfAmazingFacts.com claims to have the “largest collection of amazing facts on the Internet.”
With Google and Bing ready to quickly locate all kinds of facts and information why do you need this site? The BigSite says it's researched esoteric sayings and unique data that's not readily available elsewhere.
Facts on this site are provided as answers to questions, such as:
- “How does your tongue taste?”
- “Where does the expression ‘As Clean as a Whistle’ come from?”
- “How many different animals come in circus animal cracker boxes?”
By the way, the answer to the last one is: there used to be 37 different kinds of animals in the 110-year-old Bamum’s Animals and they were packaged in a little circus wagon made of tin.
"Today," according to The BigSite, "the 22 crackers in your cardboard box are randomly selected from a pool of 17 animals: bear, bison, camel, cougar, elephant, giraffe, gorilla, hippopotamus, hyena, kangaroo, lion, monkey, rhinoceros, seal, sheep, tiger, and zebra." Oh my!
New Slang is Constantly Invented: This Site Lists the Latest
► UrbanDictionary.com: [NOT SUITABLE FOR ALL AUDIENCES] This site contains over 7 million definitions of slang words or phrases you probably won’t find in standard dictionaries. New entries are made by users and rated by site visitors.
Some of the entries in UrbanDictionary include:
- Coffee Face – The ugly morning face many people have before they drink their coffee.
- Crutch Phrase – An overworked figure of speech, such as: "at the end of the day" or "think outside the box."
- Sit of Shame – That moment when you're sitting in your car after being pulled over by a cop and you know every person driving by is looking at you.
The site also lists such Text and Chat acronyms as:
- DBEYR – Don't believe everything you read
- ROFLMAO – Rolling on (the) floor laughing my ass off. (Much better that LOL.)
- TMI – Too much information
UrbanDictionary is designed to keep you on its site — spending your time aimless enjoying several categories that can be accessed using tabs along the top of the website.
The site is packed with more than 2,500 videos. These video clips help explain or supplement their corresponding definitions. You can randomly stumble on them or click on the MEDIA tab and scroll through a list of all the videos (e.g. Whoopah – Chander's lame attempt to make a whip sound. This entry includes the "Whoopah" scene from Friends ►).
Pixl'r Editor was used to create the "Gems on the Web" image at the top of this page.
A Website with Three Photo Editors & Tons of Tools
► Pixlr.com: Have you found Photoshop to be too expensive? Maybe you don’t need it when you can turn to Pixlr’s multilevel online photo editor that's packed with over 600 effects, overlays and tools. And it’s free!
With Pixlr both novice and advanced users can easily edit any image in a myriad of ways. You can touch up your birthday photos, crop them, remove the red from your brother Bill’s eyes and whiten Aunt Ellie’s teeth.
Pixl’r calls its three photo editing services:
- Pixlr-o-matic (Playful)
- Pixlr express (Efficient)
- Pixlr editor (Advanced)
Oh! There’s even a free mobile version available for download in Android and Apple.
Let's examine each of the Web based photo editors:
Photoshop's New Cloud Based Rental Model Spurs Revolt
Adobe, the makers of Photoshop, recently announced it will stop updating its “perpetual” software, which you buy and use forever.
Instead the latest version of Photoshop is based in the cloud, available for a monthly fee. It's like paying rent.
Many users don't like the change.
Former fans of Photoshop have begun to revolt against this plan. Over 30,000 people have signed an online petition urging Adobe to drop its subscription model.
Many free-lancers have turned to the Web in search of a replacement and they’ve found Pixlr. Most rave about it.
Playful is probably aimed at the very young. I find it a little too light on available tools.
The Efficient Pixlr editor is bursting with six function categories and each is packed with variable tools. Adjustments can be made to color, contrast and vibrancy. You can also add effects, such as light paint, chem-burn and grunge to your images. There’s even a text function that allows you to stamp a message on your picture. But once you save an image it's set in concrete.
The Advanced editor is the real king. If you’ve used Adobe’s Photoshop you’ll feel right at home with this online photo editor.
Here you’ll find such features as layers and filters, and numerous tools (e.g. wand, lasso, airbrushes, gradients, even the clone tool).
You can save your image in various file formats, including JPG, PNG and PXD, Pixlr’s multi-layer format.
Many creative folks are fans. “Pixlr Editor is my first choice for editing photos and creating images when I don’t have Photoshop around,” said web designer Andreas Viklund.
There is so much packed in Pixlr Editor that it warrants further examination in future articles.