There are so many websites out there that it’s getting harder and harder for developers to come up with a good idea. Since all the ‘good ideas’ have been taken, website owners need to come up with innovative ways to portray their web application.
The problem with this is that many people think these websites are useless because the website is either hard to use, a waste of time, or too different. But there are a lot of sites out there that people should take another look at, even if they do seem to be useless at first. Sites that are in beta will improve overtime, and a “useless” product can turn into the “next big thing”.
Here are a few sites that might be useless at the moment but should be bookmarked for use later on.
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Flip your Text does what the name implies. It flips text in a way that people need to turn themselves upside down in order to read it. Just type whatever you want to flip into the ‘Original Text’ box and click the ‘Flip’ button. Instantly, the text you typed in the ‘Original Text’ box would be flipped around. Now just copy the upside down text and post it somewhere. Some of the letters might seem a bit weird and out of place, but people will still be able to read it. Another problem is that capital letters can’t be rendered yet. Maybe that feature will be available in a future update.
Why it seems useless: While it’s extremely cool, there isn’t really a use for for this tool. It’s not like you’d use this when you’re applying for a job or when you want to break up with someone over Facebook. If you were to write an entire blog post with the letters all flipped around, your blog readers are going to scamper away like they’ve seen their boss in pink undergarments.
Why you should bookmark it: Flip your Text is one of the best ways of getting attention. Since it uses a combination of ASCII and UT8 characters, it can be rendered by most websites, which means you can use this just about anywhere, including Twitter and your e-mail. If a title of your blog post is flipped around, it’s going to attract a lot of attention because everyone’s going to be thinking “How did they do that?”. Just make sure you don’t use it too much because it can get annoying”¦
What it is: Hobnox’s Audiotool is a flash based web application where you can create your own music, using the same tools many of the DJ’s in real life use. It’s a place to experiment, fool around, and maybe even learn something. When you start the application, you’ll be brought to a flash page where you’ll see a mixer, three synthesizers, and two rows of pedals that you can play around with. Everything you see can be manipulated. Fool around with knobs, connect tools together, and just have some fun with it. It’s still in beta so things are not perfect yet and you’re not able to save your work, but AudioTool is definitely something fun to play with.
Why it seems useless: Sometimes websites are considered to be useless because it’s just too hard to use. This is one of them. Unlike other hard-to-use tools like Photoshop, the quality of the end product all depends on your skill level. Hardcore Photoshop users are going to argue this matter, but you have to admit that even Photoshop newbies can use basic tools to touch up their pictures. I tried playing around with Audiotool, and made the mistake of turning my speakers up while testing things out. About five minutes later, I got a call from a neighbor telling me to “stop banging the table”. Guess I should have watched the tutorials first”¦
Why you should bookmark it: This site is still being developed so it might be a while before it becomes a site hardcore users are going to use. At the moment, this is just something for people to begin learning how to use audio equipment and also a place to fool around. Later on, the tool will really help people who don’t have the money to buy the equipment, and once Version 2.0 comes out and users can save their work, this tool is going to be embraced by everyone interested in creating music. If you’re going to create something in AudioTool, just be sure to watch the tutorials.
What it is: Dipity is the King of timelines. It’s a great web tool that you can set up to keep track of all your feeds (including RSS, Twitter, Flickr, blogs, Last.fm, and more) and Dipity will make a visual timeline of what you do with your life. The timeline doesn’t have to be personal either; you can create one about a topic (like internet memes) and invite others to add to the timeline.
The only bad thing is that the amount of information available depends on how much information is in the RSS feed. If the RSS feed only shows a few articles, your timeline isn’t going to be that long. If you don’t like the way the timeline is organized, you can click on the other tabs and display all the information in a list, a flipbook, or in a map.
Why it seems useless: While most people would agree that this is a great idea, they don’t really see how it can be used. Yes, you can load it up with all your RSS feeds, but what good is it if you’ve already seen all the articles already? Looking at old articles or old Twitter posts isn’t going to do you any good. You’d just be wasting your time looking at things you have already seen before.
Why you should bookmark it: Dipity is one of those websites that are as useful as you want them to be. If you decide to put up feeds you read daily, then the timeline that you make isn’t going to be useful to you. However, if you decide to put up feeds of specific websites, you can make the timeline do whatever you want it to do. Here are some suggestions on using Dipity.
- Add in RSS feeds of websites you really like but don’t have the time to look at everyday. Then you can visit Dipity each week and catch up on what you missed.
- Create a timeline of current events (such as the presidential election or the war in Iraq) or just find one already made and add your own links to it. If the links are good, then you can stay up to date with all the info.
- Be a creep and use this as a tool for stalking others. Just type in the username someone uses and you’re all set.
Another cool thing about Dipity is that you can embed a timeline into your blog or website. Here’s one of Make Use Of…
The folks at Dipity have also created a site called TimeTube, a site where you can search for YouTube videos and the results are displayed on a Dipity timeline based on time and popularity. You can read the previous Make Use Of review of TimeTube here.
What it is: Midomi is an extremely innovative music search engine. Instead of searching for music using keywords and names, you can find songs using your own voice. Remember that beat you just can’t get out of your head but don’t remember the name of the song? No problem, Midomi will find it for you. To start a search, just click on the search button and allow Midomi access to your microphone. Then you can then hum, sing, whistle, or burp a song and Midomi will try to find it for you. Once you’ve found the song, you can listen to how others sing it, buy it from iTunes, or watch videos of it.
Like AudioTool, this site is in beta and needs some improvement but it works pretty well. I tested it out by “singing” (or what least trying to sing) three songs. It found two of the songs, but missed the last one. Midomi will only work if there have been previous members who have sung the entire song. The more users there are, the better the search results because Midomi matches your tune to the tunes in its database.
Why it seems useless: It takes a while to set things up, and searching for something only takes a few moments. It’s not exactly the most accurate tool on the block either. If you accidentally sing the song wrong, you’re going to get bad results. Besides, it’s not often that you can’t remember any words at all. As long as you remember a few sentences in a song, you can just put it into quotes and search it up on a regular search engine. Going through the hassle of setting up your microphone for Midomi seems like a waste of time.
Why you should bookmark it: Midomi is one of the most innovative sites I’ve ever seen. I can imagine other websites following in Midomi’s steps and use voice as a means of search. Even though people might not be using it as a search engine, you can still enjoy the site. You can sing your favorite songs, and each song you sing will improve the searching experience of others. If others like the way you sing, you could become a Midomi star getting your own place on the website. Test it out, you’d be surprised on how accurate it is.
5. Other Goodies
Having already written about four awesome sites that you’re probably going to use a lot, I think it’s time to mention a few useless sites you might never use, but you’re going to want to take a look at. The first one was brought to my attention by Aibek. He showed me this great site called Hencam where you watch chickens. That’s right. It’s an entire website dedicated to watching chickens in real time, don’t what they normally do. Useless? Yep. Cool as heck? Totally.
Another site that I pretty ashamed of of admitting I’ve used before is called Cheddar Vision. It has the same concept as Hencam, but instead of watching chickens, you watch a 500 pound chunk of cheese mold. Exciting, isn’t it? If you notice, the people at Cheddar Vision have Facebook, Myspace, and YouTube groups. If you’re interested in moldy cheese, be sure to add them on whatever network you’re on. If you go onto the website, you’ll also notice a little counter that tells you how long the cheese has been molding. There is another counter at the bottom that shows how many people have visited the site. (I sure am glad that there are over 1 million others out there who watch cheese just like me.)
There you are. These sites might still seem a bit useless to you, but I still hope you’ll take the time to check them out. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find them to be the coolest sites you’ve seen. Try them out and tell me what you think. Do you know another site that others think is useless but you use anyway? Tell me about it in the comments.
(By) Ken Burkes is an active web surfer who diggs, stumbles, and blogs in his free time. Being too lazy to get a blog of his own, you should stay up to date with Make Use Of to find more of his articles.
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