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02 June, 2007

A Few Of My Favourite Things

How rich a source of research material the Web must be for sociologists. I imagine sociology departments in universities no longer train people in field observation techniques since no-one there ever leaves the building anymore. They just sit in front of computer screens, surfing. And, let's face it, the stuff that's out there – especially in blogs – must be so much more revealing of people's lives than 'structured interviews' and 'semantic differentials' ever were (or even my favourite sociological technique: 'micro-phenomenological sabotage').

So, in the spirit of feeding these 'surfiologists' a bit more data, and in order to recommend some great websites, I list here the ten most frequently-used links on my browser's 'favourites' list:
  1. Google. Of course, I need say nothing about this site as you know it well already. It used to be better before the sponsored links appeared but it's still my favourite search engine. I like to use the local version (google.com.au, rather than google.com) because it's biased to local content (although this can sometimes be a disadvantage.)
  2. Wikipedia. Anyone who has read my blog and followed any of the links will know I love Wikipedia. Yes, there are many who say this online encyclopaedia isn't quite as good as Britannica but so what? It's free, it's easy to navigate, the coverage is pretty damned good, and I've yet to find a single article I seriously object to.
  3. Technorati. This is a curious but very popular site. People with blogs register with Technorati and then Technorati tracks those blogs, ranking them for 'authority' (how many other blogs linked there recently) and providing a search engine that returns only blog postings. If you have a blog register it here. Or if you just like blogs, this is a fascinating site.
  4. The Dilbert Archive. Without my daily fix of Dilbert, I go into withdrawal. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but when you have spent your whole career working in large, high-tech corporations, as I have, Scott Adams' take on it rings very true. Sometimes the jokes are so close to the knuckle, I've suspected he must have spies working in the same building.
  5. Astronomy Picture of the Day. Run by NASA, this site is a mine of information on astronomy but, more than this, it is an endless source of beautiful pictures of our gorgeous Universe. I know I'm very nerdy about this but it seems so cool to me that I can have a photo of a methane ocean on Titan as my screen background one day, and the incredible M65 spiral galaxy the next.
  6. Slashdot. 'News for nerds, stuff that matters' is this site's slogan and I suppose that says everything about me because I find Slashdot's daily news round-up usually has several interesting items. Today, there was a piece about metamorphic multijunction concentrator photoelectric cells. Now where else am I going to find news like that?
  7. Pageflakes. Yet Slashdot cannot supply all a nerd's daily news intake. For that, you need an RSS feed reader. I've tried a few but by far the best is Pageflakes. That's because it is a customisable, personalised site with hundreds of different widgets to choose from. The feed reader is just one of them. So I have several pages full of RSS feed widgets (categorised into; international news, local news, tech news, tech zines, etc.) plus other, useful ones that (for example) do currency conversions, show me my local weather, display random photos from Flickr, present selected quotes of the day, even a clock. Have a look at my Pageflakes home page.
  8. Blogger. Blogger is Google's blog service. You can go to Blogger and start up a blog for free, then manage and maintain it with the tools they provide. It's all pretty easy. There are many, many other blog services around but I like Google. You can even get free blogging software to download and install on your own website – but why bother when Blogger takes all the pain out of it? It's on my list because I go there nearly every day to add a new blog posting.
  9. Itools – Language Tools. This gives me a multi-dictionary search and a multi thesaurus search. What can I say, I'm a writer, this is an essential tool.
  10. W3Schools Online Web Tutorials. The Web is just full of fantastic free stuff and this collection of tutorials on web programming is one of the best examples. It's where I learned HTML, XML and PHP and I stop by fairly frequently when I need to learn new stuff (like the 'server-side includes' I needed for the Save The Wesley Pool site I did recently).

1 comment:

Timothy Carter said...

I'm right there with you about Dilbert. I've quite enjoyed Scott Adams's books, too. Some of the stories he's gathered from workers around the world are just insane! Makes the Dilbert cartoon seem tame by comparison.

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