Websites that rule – Part 7


Guess we’re due for another one of these…

Why the site rules:  This site may not be for everyone.  Indeed, it’s laced with profanity, sensitive topics, personal revelations, apathetic-yet-intense rants, political and religious opinions, insults, uncommon/fringe assertions, and the occasional traumatic childhood story.

But far from being a sailor (mouth-wise) or a martyr, this anonymous scar-tissued soul refreshingly tells it like it is with the perfect combo of snark and sass, interjecting equal amounts of humor and seriousness.  I’ve read every post…and enjoyed it all immensely, even the 2% I didn’t necessarily agree with.  (The other 98% of the author’s opinions, however, had me cheering.)

Why the site rules:  Since shopping at a local grocery store is often a prescription for developing chronic disease and dysfunction, it’s becoming increasingly important to seek alternatives.  Yes indeed, there are still places in which healthy food is available; they’re just not available at your neighborhood grocery store and you usually have to do a little legwork to find them.

Using its simple interface, you can use this website to find anything from farmers markets to co-op stores to community-supported agriculture.  What’s more is, you can search for these resources by city/state, across the whole country.

Unfortunately, some of the major health food store chains, such as Whole Foods Market, Central Market, and Trader Joe’s are not included, which is a shame because these are often excellent places to start (due to their ease and accessibility) for someone who is just beginning a journey toward greater health.

But it does have most of your local options covered, which might be a better way to go in the long run anyway, as it offers you a unique opportunity to get to know the people who actually grow your food!

Why the site rules:  While on the subject of health, many people are starting to hear about how various chemicals used in practically every common product (household cleaning products, body care products, food storage containers, furniture flame retardants, air fresheners, and many more) are contributing–or downright causing–chronic disease.  Many of these chemicals–and their significant health risks–have zero labeling or disclosure requirements.

This site gives us an outline of a house and its rooms, and from there, you can click on each room individually to find out what hidden dangers might be lurking around us.

Why the site rules:  Ever get the suspicion that your internet service provider (ISP) might be “throttling” or limiting your bandwidth?  We were once tangled up in a 2-year contract with a service named Clearwire (or “Clear”), and after about 2-4 months of screaming-fast internet speeds and flawless page loading, our speed suddenly plummeted.  When we called them to investigate, at first they indirectly denied any such practice (we didn’t know enough info to call them out on it, but they instead “reset” the modem, and the service would work smoothly again…for a short time).

This website gave us proof that our internet speeds were agonizingly slow.  Simply visit the site and it will detect where you are, and locate your nearest test server.  Simply click on that and click on “Begin Test”.

First it will ping the server, and then it will measure your sustained download speed, followed by the same for upload speed.  From there, it will let you optionally compare your speed with others out there.  (With Clearwire, wouldn’t you know we were paying for 6MB download and getting a quarter of 1MB (yes, 0.25MB!).

I understand that actual download speeds may vary and may not always be the quoted maximum speed (a technicality they get around by advertising speeds “up to” a certain number), but come on – no excuse for 0.25 out of 6MB.  This site helped us immensely.

Why the site rules:  We live in a fast-paced, yang-dominated, full-speed kind of world.  We’re always chasing this deadline or that, or trying to get to an appointment or commitment.  There’s always something going on and after a full day or week of such sustained scurrying, it’s tough to unwind.

This bare-bones, no-frills site is a neat collection of posts about letting go and taking time to stop and smell the flowers.  It talks about how to simplify, de-stress, un-clutter, and cleanse your mind, body, soul, and immediate surroundings.  Scroll to the bottom and click on the “See All Posts” button.  And then breathe.  And just be.

Why the site rules:  If you’re anything like me, you’re getting an increasingly nagging suspicion that Google has all but abandoned its no-BS, feel-good, down-to-earth “Don’t Be Evil” philosophy that made it so great in the beginning (dare I say before 2004, after which it has been publicly traded on the stock market and all bets turned off).

And, if you’re anything like me, you’re growing increasingly uneasy with that fact, as well as starting to shudder to think about all the detailed information Google knows about you, as well as our lack of knowledge of what Google could do with such info.  Google has grown so large and so omnipresent that you almost can’t escape it (well, except for a few neat tools, which we’ll probably cover later).

This site serves as an informational watchdog and gives you the lowdown on All Things Google, without towing the company line.

Why the site rules:  Speaking of internet privacy rights, Abine offers a possible part of the solution.  While their Firefox add-on is an excellent idea, I didn’t find it to be the strongest option (some people do prefer this one over others, but I found that others like Ghostery work better).

Regardless, they have a fantastic internet privacy blog that does two things: 1) inform you of various data that companies gather about you and how it may be used, and 2) arm you with possible solutions to eliminate–or at least minimize–your cyber footprint.

Why the site rules:  The Myers-Briggs personality test asks a battery of questions about different aspects of your personality, and based on your answers, it can tell you which of 16 personality “types” you are, designating a 4-letter label for you (no, not a 4-letter word).

The first letter is either E or I, depending on whether you’re Extroverted or Introverted; the second letter is either S or N, depending on whether you’re Sensing or iNtuitive; the third letter is either T (Thinking) or F (Feeling); and the fourth letter is either J (Judging) or P (Perceiving).

Of those 16 possible combos, the INTJ combo is the rarest, comprising only 2% of the population.  And we’re a little quirky, to say the least.  This website provides a forum in which INTJs (and their close personality relatives, such as INTPs or INFJs) can interact.  Most of us are geeky and a few of us can be a bit chilly (though this is largely other peoples’ perception and not actually the way most of us are).  Entertaining–and informative–reading!

Why the site rules:  In case the previous item resonated with you, here’s a site with a free version of the test, and fairly detailed descriptions of all 16 personality types.

I advise not attempting to guess which one you are just by reading the descriptions; if you’re interested in this kind of thing, it’s a good idea to actually take the test.  Although the full test (offered elsewhere, for a fee) is more complete, the free version provides a nice sampling of questions, with enough representation of the full test in order to designate you accurately.  Once you’ve done the questionnaire, however (and you’ve had your friends or loved ones do them too, for fun), then you can use this site to read up on everybody in order to gain a deeper understanding of yourselves and each other.

Why the site rules:  This might not speak to everyone, because not everyone is Wiccan, knows any Wiccans, or is interested in Wicca.

But whether you’re Wiccan or not, this site is a neat resource of spiritual information for anyone.  Yes, it’s Wicca-based, but it doesn’t get “weird” (by mainstream standards), and it’s essentially a blog of articles that focuses on various aspects of Wicca and the laws of Nature.  Even better, the archives are extensive and easily accessible (column of months and years on the right-hand side).

Why the site rules:  I know, I know.  Everyone already knows about this site.  How mainstream of me.  But whether or not you’re familiar with it (and if not, there is absolutely no shame in that!), I figured I’d give it a shout-out anyway.  An aggregate technological, scientific, psychological, and business news site, it covers all things strange, trendy, and cutting-edge.  Wanna know the extent of NSA stalking?  Check.  The lawsuit against Google for grabbing your wi-fi login and password as they drove by your house to film the Google Street View for Google Maps?  Check.  And the list goes on.

There ya go.


3 thoughts on “Websites that rule – Part 7

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