15 Websites or Services I Like

Ryan Spoon writes “15 Websites / Services I’d Actually Pay For.”1 Like Spoon, I have a top 15 list. Unlike Spoon, I’m not willing to pay for any of them. If anything on my top list started charging, I could easily find a free alternative. Would I get exactly the same benefits? No, but I’m “frugal.”

Here’s my list and some other free alternatives:

  • WordPress. The blogging application I use on blogan.net. I’ve used both WordPress and Blogger. Blogger just works but WordPress gives incredible control. Free and open source. Alternatives: Habari, MovableType, Blogger, and many others.
  • K2 WordPress Theme. Not so much a theme as a theme foundation. Supports menus, asides, sidebar modules (much superior option to widgets), live archives, advanced navigation, live search, etc. Has an active support community. Alternatives: Too many to list.
  • Akismet. Akismet has blocked more than 135,000 spam comments from appearing on blogan.net. That’s a huge time savings. Alternatives: Bad Behavior, Spam Karma 2 (which I’m using with Akismet) or outsourcing the problem with Disqus (see below, which I believe also uses Akismet).
  • Firefox. Tabs and addons. What more can I say? Alternatives: Internet Explorer 7 or Opera. I used IE7 until I couldn’t access a web app at work. Attempting to uninstall IE7 to go back to IE6 borked my OS.
  • Firebug. Let’s me easily determine which style(s) apply to the various elements of my blog. Also makes it easy to help others debug their issues. Alternatives: The Web Developer Plugin has some of the same features, but is not a real replacement for Firebug.
  • Google Reader. I used to use a standalone RSS reader until my computer died and I lost all my feeds. Google Reader keeps track for me and lets me access my feeds from anywhere. I like the share feature and am waiting for a widget that better integrates the new share with notes feature with my blog. Alternatives: Bloglines.
  • Google Search. Google is synonymous with search for me. Alternatives: you tell me. Ms Dewey?
  • Twitter. The best address on the web to expose my life in 140-characters or less. Like Google Reader’s share feature, Twitter has decreased the volume of my blogging. Alternatives: I could use “asides” on my blog for shorts posts. But the real value of Twitter is the community. I don’t think it would exist if Twitter charged.
  • Streaming Radio Guide. A comprehensive compilation of streaming radio stations. Alternatives: I don’t know. Once I found SRG, I quit looking.
  • Simple Weather. All the weather you need and nothing else. Alternatives: Lots, but they are so cluttered compared to Simple Weather.
  • Google Maps. Fast and simple. Google continues to add new features. I particularly like being able to compare travel times for various paths between two points. Alternatives: Do people still use MapQuest?
  • myvidoop. OpenID provider that also tracks my logins and passwords for sites that don’t accept OpenID. Initial login can be a little slow. Alternatives: myOpenID and claimID, though I don’t think they track your other logins and passwords.
  • Disqus. Comment system that can be added to blogs. I like how it lets me track my comments on other blogs that also use Disqus. Alternatives: Intense Debate and others.
  • YouTube. Publish videos and watch others’. Alternatives: Bunches of them, but when people think of video on the Internet, they’re likely thinking of YouTube.
  • Snopes. If more people read Snopes, we’d have less forwarded junk mail. Alternatives: Break the Chain.

So what would you put on your top 15 list of web sites and services? Would you be willing to pay for any of them?


  1. Hat tip: Mark Ghosh at Weblog Tools Collection, who provides his own list. 

Author: Brent Logan

Engineer. Lawyer. WordPress geek. Longboarder. Blood donor. Photographer. More about Brent.

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