Yes I am gonna forgo my usual ultra-cool metrosexual side and go a little geeky for this post. The following are the top 5 finds of last year that really made a difference in the way I use the web.
1. Music: Last.fm/Pandora
In the past the only way I got to discover new music/bands was going through music websites, finding highly recommended artists and then downloading mp3s of their songs, after which I would buy the CD if I liked it.
Those days are long gone with the emergence of music sites like Last.fm and Pandora. Last.fm is not just an online radio station, it tracks the songs that you play on your computer, and plays you other artists that you might like based on your musical tastes. It does this by comparing you to other users who like the same bands. I have lost count of the number of amazing bands that I have discovered through this amazing website. In fact it's so good I became a paid subscriber.
Pandora works in a similar way, but it's more "scientific" as it identifies key components in the song (tempo, vocal style etc.) to find similar artists for you. However it runs off the website so all you need is a flash-enabled browser.
2. Bookmarks: del.icio.us
The problem with traditional bookmarks is they are practically impossible to manage once you have a sizeable number. The reason for this is even if you sort them into folders after some time you forget which folders they are under.
Del.icio.us solves that problem by using tags to sort your bookmarks. del.icio.us tags are simply ANY words YOU associate with a website. For example, for my site you might use the tags "blog", "lamea" and "daily" . Then when you search for a particular bookmark, just search for any of the words and you should see it. Might sound confusing at first, but you will get it after you use it for while.
3. Tech News: Digg
Digg is a very cool tech news website but with the unique feature that readers submit the stories. However, it allows users to rate ("digg) stories that they think is good , only the highest rated ones are shown on the main page.
4. RSS Portal: Netvibes
In the old days you had to keep going to a site to check if it has been updated. But with RSS , you get updates sent to you. Google and Microsoft have web portals that allow you to read rss feeds, but the best in my opinion is Netvibes as it manages the feeds very elegantly. You can even check your gmail, yahoo or any pop or imap based email from the page. Click the screenshot below to see my portal.
5. Games: Scorched3D/Pawn
My two favorite free games I discovered in 2005. Pawn is a free chess game that is really exceptional considering its price, a good way to pass the time when you are bored. Scorched 3D is a 3D game that is like worms but you control a tank and try to take out other tanks.