To find out more about any of these, plug the name into Google and it will take you to their website. If you have any others to suggest, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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- CARBONITE – Are you worried about losing all that data on your PC or lappy as a result of theft or computer failure? Why not back it all up online. Simply store all your files or folders under one big folder on your hard drive and then set that to backup to an ONLINE hard disk drive (=a webserver). You can back up as much as you want. I’ve got 24Gb worth of stuff backed up. Once it is set up, it will back up new files automatically as they are put on your hard drive – keeping it maintenance free from your end. It costs around £25 a year – a bargain for the peace of mind it gives.
- DROPBOX – I love this service too. An absolute must for those of us who work on more than one computer (e.g. laptop, PC) resulting in files and folders scattered all over the place and losing track of the current version. This free 2Gb online service basically sets up an folder (called ‘my dropbox’) where you save/dump your files. These are then synchronised (automatically) to an online equivalent cyberspace folder which in turn synchronises to dropboxes set up on other computers. It’s dead easy to install – full step by step guidance given. You will LOVE it! You can pay to have large space.
- REMEMBER THE MILK – If you have lots of tasks to do and have many fingers in different pies and struggle to keep on top of them, then this website is for you. It’s an online task list which means you can access it from anywhere and even have it on certain mobile devices like BlackBerrys and iPhones.
- MISTER POLL – With MisterPoll you can create your own online polls on any subject with an unlimited number of questions. Email them to friends, plug them into your web site, submit them to MisterPoll’s public directory, and more. Really useful site when you want to do a “rough and ready” survey of people.
- SURVEY MONKEY – Another great online poll/survey website. It’s becoming more popular that Mister Poll.
- BUSINESSBALLS – Businessballs is a free ethical learning and development resource for people and organisations, run by Alan Chapman, in Leicester, England. It’s an online collection of learning and development ideas and is now used by about a million people each month. Essential if you want to know more about teams and management.
- MINDTOOLS – Learn hundreds of essential career skills, FREE of charge, and develop yourself on an ongoing basis with their popular free e-newsletter. It’s quite a busy looking website BUT has a range of material ranging from leadership skills, project management, time management, stress relief skills to creativity. Learn how to even “manage” people above you – like your boss!
- BRAINSTORM – Jurgen Wolff teaches creativity workshops around the world and he is the author of “Do Something Different”. Through his website, you can subscribe to his wonderful e-bulletin which captures some wonderful pearls for creativity and productivity offered by its subscribers.
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A brief but important point: If you’re abroad and paying via card, always pay in the currency of the country you are in. Often, retailers will ask you if you want to pay in ‘Sterling’ or (say) ‘Euros’. This is called dynamic currency exchange. If you opt for Sterling, the rate you get will be appalling and the retailer or bank will be making big bucks out of it. It’s always best to stick with paying in the foreign currency. If you’re travelling to Spain, be especially careful. Some Spanish banks, particularly the giant Santander, have started to ask UK cardholders if you want to have your money converted into Sterling when withdrawing Euros from ATMs. Always say No; the rate you’ll get is worse than the rate you’d be given by your own plastic provider when it converts Euro withdrawals.
- LATEROOMS – These days I make most of my hotel bookings via LateRooms – in advance or right up til the last minute. Unlike Expedia, they don’t charge an administration fee for cancellations either. You can book hotels, B&Bs, chalets, castles and lots more. Prices are really good and it really does take the pain out of finding a decent room at a decent price.
- TRIVAGO – I like this site a lot too because it’s really easy to use, searches a whole host of internet hotel search engines, and you can finely customise your results (like including only hotels with WiFi or a swimming pool).
- NEARESTHOTELS – Nearest hotels is a super utility if you are looking for a hotel close to a particular place (only for the UK). All you need is the postcode or address of where you want your hotel to be close to. It not only displays a list, but also a map of where various hotels are in relation to your destination point. I often try this website to find a hotel I want, and then use LateRooms to find the same hotel but at a cheaper price.
- TRIPADVISOR – I love this website too. Before booking with LateRooms, I check out what others have to say about the hotel I am about to book. Found a hotel you want to stay in but not sure how good it really is despite what they say on their own home page? Read comments from recent people who have actually stayed there. The site also offers free travel guides too.
- GOOGLEMAPS – Google maps is another great utility for finding a hotel close to a particular place, but unlike Nearest Hotels it covers the world! Just type “hotels in LS2 9JT” and it will do the rest for you and give you a list of hotels and their direct websites. Remember, you might find a cheaper quote on a website like LateRooms though.
Holidays & Flights
- TRAVELSUPERMARKET – TravelSupermarket.com is a price comparison site which means it searches the market for you. You can book flights, hotels, holidays, ski holidays, UK breaks and much more. All of these are often at great prices but if you want more, click the ‘Bargain Hunter’ tab. Need inspiration? Then click on ‘top 10 destinations’. They provide online travel guides too.
- FLIGHTMAPPER – This is a great site for finding out in which cities there are scheduled flights to specific destinations. For instance, you would be wasting your time trying to search for a flight from say Manchester to Seville. If you used flightmapper, you’d realise that scheduled flights to Seville are only available in Liverpool and London. And then you can start using the travel websites to find the best deal.
- SKYSCANNER – SkyScanner is a bit like Flightmapping.com but it also tells you which days the scheduled flights will occur and therefore helps you to book the right dates off from work rather than sticking to the usual Sat-Sat rule. Ever booked a holiday from say Sat to Sat only to find out the flight for your destination only happens on a Tuesday and Thursday?
- ENJOYENGLAND – Stuck and don’t know what to do for the forthcoming weekend/bank holiday etc? Why not check this website out for some ideas of breaks and days out in England. You can book directly with them often at a discounted rate.
- VISITBRITAIN – Whether you’re looking for practical travel advice, or need information about visas or health insurance, if you want to learn more about British culture, or simply want to know what the weather’s like today, this site is full of fascinating and useful insider knowledge About Britain. It has a whole host of travel guides too.
- INFORMATIONBRITAIN – Britain under one web roof; this site offers 20,000 quality places to stay, 20,000 things to do, 30,000 places to eat, 30,000 shops to shop in, History and Heritage, Culture and Leisure, Travel and Tourism, Theatres and Towns. Our Natural Beauty, Our Monarchy, Your reviews, Your reports. Thousands of pages of useful information, geography and gardening, services, society, sport – even schooling.
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- MONEYSAVINGEXPERT – Martin Lewis is an award-winning TV & radio presenter who spends his life focusing on how to cut bills without cutting back. This site is absolutely fab. It covers anything to do with money from how to find the cheapeast gas supplier, best credit card deal, finding a cheap holiday to buying books or CDs online. Tip: use the search box – just type in whatever you are looking for and Robert’s your uncle! Also check out the money makeover section.
- MOTLEYFOOL – Looking for a mortgage, a better credit card, want to dabble in shares or just some financial information, then this is your one stop shop. It now offers a ‘compare and save’ service for all the major house utilities one has to pay. Try their question and answer tool: if you have a question about money, this is the perfect place for it.
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- GOOGLE PRODUCTS – Google Products used to be called Froogle. I always go to Google Products if I want to buy something: to see where I can get it at best price. Been to a high street shop and something’s taken your fancy? Don’t pay the extortionate prices in the shop. Take note of the make and model number and plug it into Google Product Search which will then scan the online market for best prices.
- EBAY- Of course, the other place to buy something you’ve seen in a shop is on eBay where you can save lots of money. Be careful though of buying used electrical goods. Why not try and sell all the junk you have in your attic. I thought I had a whole load of worthless stuff in my attick and recently flogged it all for a total of £1500. How’s that for just a bit of junk. And it’s nice to have the attic space back again.
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- ABEBOOKS – Score great deals on new, secondhand and international edition textbooks. There’s even a rare book room and books signed by the author. The thing I like most about this site is the fact it promotes the recycling. Can be much cheaper than Amazon (the other big book trader) and many items have free postage.
- LOGANBERRY BOOKS – Trying to remember the details of a book but can’t quite remember the author or title? Send in what you can and ‘Stump the Bookseller’ will attempt to figure it out all for £1. How’s that for service; and they’ll try and locate a copy for you too. Loganberry again is all about recycling used books.
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- CALLCHECKER – The call checker is an advanced tool to find cheaper prices for certain types of calls. Bought to you by moneysavingexpert.com
- SAYNOTO0870.COM – Stop big companies ripping you off by getting you to call them on 0870 numbers (expensive rates) when you want to talk to them. Use cheaper or freefone numbers listed on this site. The SAYNOTO0870.COM web site has been featured on BBC’s Working Lunch TV programme, and a host of other media including The Guardian, Which Magazine, Readers Digest, and many more.
- SKYPE – Make calls from your computer — free to other people on Skype and cheap to phones and mobiles around the world. So many people use Skype these days and the programme will even search your address book and let you know who else is signed up. Then you can connect to them whenever they are online. Skype is now available for mobiles too – no need to make expensive mobile calls. Try it.
- VYKE – Mobile VoIP (Voice over Internet Phone) by Vyke – Virtually free! Means you can make FREE CALLS to all Mobile VoIP and VoIP Phone users in the Vyke network. For calls to fixed phones in Europe, USA and Canada you only pay around 2p per call. For all other calls, it is just inexpensive. Vyke Mobile VoIP is an add-on service; you do not need a contract and you keep your existing sim card. Use Mobile VoIP instead of GSM whenever you are in a WI-FI zone, it saves you money!
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- TAKEPART.COM – TakePart helps inspire, empower, and ignite people to take daily action in making the world better. Make a difference – take action through social change.
- COMPUTERAID – Computer Aid International offers a complete service to companies replacing their hardware. They are experts in end-of life IT asset management, including data destruction, computer refurbishment, reuse, and recycling. Donating your computers to Computer Aid guarantees compliance with all UK legislation, including the WEEE directive, Data Protection Act and Environment Act.
- FREECYLE – Freecycle is a network of millions of people around the world who want to swap their unwanted gifts and goods for free. Sign up to the UK bit and recieve notifications of goods up for grabs or list your own. The rules are: a)there’s no cost and b) items are legal and c) items are appropriate for all ages. Go and check it out – what have you got to lose?
- MISSIONFISH – Missionfish will help you get rid of some stuff on Ebay and then help you donate some or all of the profits to charity. They mark your items with a charity ribbon to show others you’re an ethically minded seller. You can choose from their list of charitable organisations to whom you wish the donation to go to or suggest one that isn’t listed.
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- RECIPIFY – Manage your recipes the easy way. Share recipes with your friends and discover new ones. Vast collection online.
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- DRAWINGCOACH.COM – Learn how to draw and improve your skill in no time with the help of an online coach. This guy really shows you how easy drawing can be. Ranging from faces, caricatures, perspective drawing and loads more. Even has some video tutorials.
- WWW.FODDY.NET – A fabulous collection of basic games. Some of these are so silly (like QWOP – where you use the Q,W,O and P keys to make a sprinter run) – but they are fun. If you’re stressed out from a consultation, how about playing one of these games for 5 minutes to de-stress you and help you be ready for the next patient?