15 Websites or Services I Like

Ryan Spoon writes “15 Websites / Services I’d Actually Pay For.” 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?

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

By Brent Logan

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

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