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The best websites in the world…ever. Vol.20

Alex Christie

30 October 2008

To get this blog started I sat down and made a quick list of the sites I visit. Some of the usual suspects were there, iGoogle, del.icio.us, google maps, and Facebook.

A quick visit to del.icio.us was a reminder of just how much time I spend online, the vast number of sites I visit and the rather varied categories of interests that I have, so I have decided that rather than try and force myself to just three sites, I will pick three categories that are important in my life and share some favourites for each.

Education
I grew up in California and went to
UCLA, so I visit the UCLA website weekly to keep up on how my Bruins are doing in Football and Basketball depending on the season.

While working full-time at Tamar, I am also in my last year of completing a MSc at UCL, so I am on one of their websites every day. For my research I use Google Scholar quite a lot and can not express how much I wish that this was available while I was doing my undergraduate studies (yes, I did my degree before there was Google or the internet for that matter).
I have not had to go to a library once while in graduate school and
that flexibility is one of the primary reasons I am able to do the
degree and still work full-time.

I spend about 90 mins each way travelling to work most days (bus/tube/train), so I rely on my ipod and Sony ebook for sufficient distraction.  I subscribe to many pod and video casts via itunes and actually find that I wish I had more time to spend on them. Fortunately some of my interests and work overlap, so I enjoy reading several other blogs related to User Experience, Usability and Design. Here are a few favourites:

http://www.uxmatters.com/

http://www.dexodesign.com/

http://www.affectivedesign.org/

Shopping

I also have a bit of a passion for fashion and my favorite window shopping site is net-a-porter.com  Net-a-porter allows me to personalise the emails that I receive so that only my favourite designers are displayed and I also have a Wish List that I can share with friends and family, which I have found very handy lately as I have a birthday coming up next month!

I also use eBay and therefore, PayPal, a lot. Especially as I will soon be going back to the US for a visit. My parents are reminded often in the run up to my return trip, that I will soon be arriving, by the frequent packages and deliveries being made from my online purchases. I also sell quite a lot on ebay and enjoy watching the final minute of the auction to see the bids coming in.

A fairly recent shopping contender is Ideeli. This site offers quality items on sale for a very limited time. I receive an email about the sale about an hour before it starts. When I arrive there is a clock at the top of the page counting down the remaining time of the sale. The first hour of the sale requires you to pay a monthly membership fee ("front row" status), but if you are like me and are happy to just try your luck then after the second hour there is no membership fee.

Travelling
Tripadvisor has already been mentioned by Jeremy, but I have to include it as I am quite passionate about travelling to new and foreign places and I therefore rely on the reviews of others to help me make better travel decisions. I pour over the reviews of hotels, in particular, before making my final decision.

If I am looking for new travel ideas or if I can splurge a bit, I love Luxury Link. I have found the search tool very useful whether I am booking for 2 or 10 of us and the gorgeous photos and reviews are just what I want. Great deals are to be had by purchasing through the auctions on offer, just be sure to read the fine print about black out dates and exactly what the price covers.

I take A LOT of pictures when I travel. I have them stored on an external drive at home and I also upload all of them to Picasa. I have both a public gallery and a private gallery, I can tag people in photos and I can save my friends who use Picasa also as "favourites" so that I get notified when they upload a new album. I do use Flickr as well, but I find that my family use Picasa more and it is better for us to all use the same application to help with sharing – so Picasa is the current winner.

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Happy surfing!

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