Five Sites To Feed Your Senses

We come across a slew of websites in our line of work. Most of them are inescapably awful, but some shine through as useful sites that can make using the Internet much more interesting (and easier to use).

Half of the time, we find these sites on our own and the other half, our friends, fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter. However we lay eyes on it, a similar thread runs through our first batch of cool links (and, hopefully, each batch forthcoming) – these sites* can make your time on the Internet more efficiently used and a much more accurately informative experience.

Most sites (including some of the ones we pick) aren’t perfect, so we’ll point out the pitfalls of a website where applicable. And, in line with our non-perfectness, let us know where we’re wrong or sites that you think should be included.

(* we definitely aren’t claiming to have “discovered” these sites. Many of you may already be familiar with these links and you might know of similar sites that you feel are better than the ones we have listed. We’re not interested, though. Keep it to yourselves. Just kidding. Maybe.)

Grooveshark The Good: Find just about any song you seek…and stream it for free. Grooveshark lets you create a profile and playlists that are accessible from anywhere you can log in. You can search by song, artist, album or playlist and connect with other Groovesharks to share playlists, too. Also, when you log out and log back in, Groovshark saves the last playlist you had open and you have the option of restoring it, rather than starting from scratch. The Not-So-Good: Not all of the songs are listed with accurate info, so sometimes you have to dig a little to find some of your more obscure selections. Also, and most annoyingly, Grooveshark has the tendency to slow your machine down when you let it run for a while with multiple programs open. Shutting down Grooveshark and re-opening it seems to solve this problem for us.

Boston.com’s The Big Picture – The image collections on Boston.com’s The Big Picture are some of the most stunning examples of photojournalism we’ve ever seen. From the site – “The Big Picture is intended to highlight high-quality, amazing imagery – with a focus on current events, lesser-known stories and, well, just about anything that comes across the wire that looks really interesting.” They pretty much accomplish that with each new collection they post – from troubling images of war and strife across the globe to nature photography that would soften the hardest hearts. Here’s a recent example of a Big Picture photo from the recent devastating oil drilling catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico – It’s a bag of water from the Gulf Of Mexico. (from Boston.com via REUTERS/Carlos Barria):

the big picture

Down For Everyone Or Just Me -This site has a simple goal: You enter in a URL and this site tells you if it’s down for everyone or it’s just a problem with your machine/Internet connection. It’s fast, simple to use and incredibly useful for those times when you want to know if the whole world can’t get to a site, or if the whole world (wide web) is out to get just you.

Entertonement The Good: Entertonement lets you listen to and easily share soundbites from just about anything (music, movies, news…seriously, anything). According to Entertonement, the site is designed to promote the sharing of these sound bites through mobile devices, but you can share from your computer, too. Searching is easy and sharing is even easier (you can share each clip on Twitter, Facebook or grab the embed code).  The Not-So-Good: The sound quality of some clips leaves much to be desired. Searching for specific clips can be difficult so you’re forced to take a top-down approach and search for, say, a movie title, and see what clips are available.

LiveLeak – LiveLeak is like YouTube’s older, much cooler older brother. With a mission of “redefining the media,” LiveLeak allows users to post video showing footing of war, riots, accidents, events, celebrity crap, and much more. Let’s put it this way – there are things you will see on LiveLeak that you won’t likely see anywhere else. Want to see how American soldiers interact with native peoples? You won’t believe some of the footage there. Want a first-person, street-level view of what deadly riots look like in Bangkok? It’s not like anything you’d see on the news. WARNING: A lot of the footage is very graphic and sometimes very unsettling, so be careful what you watch (and where you watch it).

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