There Are So Many Amazing Websites…yet so little time to discover them…much less appreciate them…which is why I wrote this post…
‘Just Google it’
has become my mantra…
Sometimes I think that I drive my husband & kids just a little nuts by how often I suggest they Google something, but I truly believe that you can learn just about anything with a few simple web searches…
I’m a member of the baby boom generation. A later member by most counts, but still soundly part of that generation. The generation that’s transformed the world in ways that history will hopefully spotlight as mostly good and beneficial to our society as a whole.
Information Has Become Our Most Vital Resource
Information helps us to make decisions. The better that information is, the better our decisions are and the more successful we can become. For me, information is everything. I’m sure I’m not the first to link these paradigms together in this way, but by doing so you can see why I’m such a huge information aficionado:
- Information is Knowledge
- Knowledge is Power
- Power Can Be Anything That You Want it to Be
This is how I see the world. Rarely does a day go by in which I’m not amazed by the Internet. It’s such an extraordinary tool for life that I truly wonder how I ever got along without it. Later generations including the one our kids belong to and certainly the one of their kids, just won’t be able to appreciate how much the world has been changed in a few short years by the greatness of the World Wide Web.
Maybe that’s sad…I don’t know yet…but maybe they’ll see even greater advances and they’ll have their own phenomenon to marvel at. I suspect so. But for me and for us, the baby boomers of the world, it’s information I think that we’ll look back upon someday and smile knowingly because we got to be a part of creating something so profoundly important.
With that framework in mind, I’m dedicating this section of vsatrends to virtual information. Not just any virtual information mind you…but some of the most amazing virtual resources that I’ve ever run across…those websites that, every time I visit them, never cease to amaze me!
What thrills me even more is that so many of these sites, sites which include some of the most amazing libraries and resources in the world, are literally at our fingertips! That, and of course the fact that they are free! Even when a website doesn’t make all their resources completely free to non-registered, or non-subscribing members (generally meaning non-paying people), oftentimes a significant portion of their information is available for free.
I’m creating this list in real time, so while it may appear to be short right now, never fear that I’ll be adding to it several times a week as I run across fascinating sites and qualify the validity of the information they provide. So remember to check back weekly or monthly for my newest entries. Furthermore, I really love this kind of information, so if you know of sites that should be included here, please leave me a comment with a link, and I’ll consider adding your site, while properly acknowledging your contribution if you desire.
So without further ado, here is my list…
- The CIA maintains an amazing website with much of their international intelligence. They also publish this data in book form calling it the World Fact Book. If you’re planning an international trip or researching somewhere else in the world this is one of many useful US governmental websites to provide excellent and up-to-date data.
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library
FireEye is an enterprise network security firm that has created this amazing real time world map which shows actual cyber attacks as they’re occurring. To really appreciate the complexity of their world map you show view it on a computer. If you watch it for a minute or 2 you’ll see how prevalent malicious cyber attacks really are…and if you happen to see a huge attack in progress it is a truly an astonishing site to see. In fact, if you’re so inclined, you should leave the site up and running for a little while just to catch a glimpse of one of these major attacks!
This one map alone can influence people to take their personal data security seriously and that’s a good thing. But from here you can visit and learn much more about the most current threats and how to defend against them.
This is how British Pathé describes their website: British Pathé is considered to be the finest newsreel archive in the world and is a treasure trove of 85,000 films unrivalled in their historical and cultural significance. Their newsreels, which cover the years 1896 to 1976, are free to the public for viewing either directly from their website (which is recommended for searching purposes) or via YouTube.
The historical significance and breadth of this collection cannot be overstated…the site truly deserves inclusion among my most treasured websites of all time.
The New York Times publishes a weekly blog I love called ‘After Deadline‘. It’s written in part by Philip B. Corbett, who’s the associate managing editor for standards, and who’s also in charge of The Times’ style manual. Apparently he oversees a weekly newsroom critique in which journalist’s writings are analyzed for errors related to grammar. Some of the more interesting findings are published in ‘After Deadline’. I’m afraid that I’m not making a great case for why this site is so amazing, but trust me it really, really is!
Reading ‘After Deadline’ is sort of like reading about the really fascinating personal observations of someone you greatly admire and respect who knows a lot about a lot of things…not just grammar. It’s written conversationally and never fails to entertain and educate. I mean let’s face it…there’s a reason why the New York Times is one of the most widely read news papers in the world…they know how to write, capture, and keep people’s interest! If I haven’t convinced you yet…just go check it out!
- The Winge Family’s Shoelace Company & Learning To Make Shoes By Hand
The 2 websites I discuss here are very different from those above in that they are the work of an individual and a family. The family site is primarily an online retail establishment, but I’m including it here because they provide a great solution to finding a difficult item, namely shoe laces, and it’s evident from their site that they’re a family who’s passionate about shoe laces.
The Winge family operates what may be the largest retail shoelace establishment in the United States. That might not be 100% true, but it’s certainly true in the online world. If your looking for shoelaces this is the place to come.
ShoelacesExpress.com is their website. I discovered this site recently while I was searching for replacement rawhide shoelaces for a favorite old pair of Sperry Topsider Boat shoes. Getting replacement shoe laces for boat or deck shoes is no easy proposition. I’ve been looking for them for about 6 months, and I’d exhausted all of the the big box store alternatives like Walmart, Target and Kohls, as well as most of our local retailers including DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse), Walgreens, CVS, plus quite a few of the women’s and family shoe stores in our area. The one thing I hadn’t yet tried was contacting some of our local shoe repair shops. But they tend to be solo entrepreneurs where we live. Men who are generally from Slavic countries like Poland, Bulgaria and Russia and who while great at what they do tend not to be particularly accomadating when it comes to questions and special requests.
I’d also searched online a few times. I’d searched Amazon and conducted quite a few Google searches…which all yielded nothing. Today I tried yet again and through a unique combination of search terms that I don’t quite remember, I discovered the Shoelaces Express website.
What makes this site special is the methods they’ve employed for searching their inventory. You can search for shoelaces many different ways…by type of shoes, lace colors, or lace lengths or they also provide custom lengths. Plus, there’s a bonus webpage they’ve added that displays scriptures along with their proudly stated affiliation with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. OK, that isn’t really a plus, but it is sort of quirky and certainly drives home the notion that this is truly a family run business from deep in the heart of Georgia! I discovered the scriptures when I saw a menu item titled ‘Good News‘. It brought me to the webpage shown below which begins with this…’How to Get to Heaven From Where You Are.’
Regardless of their quirkiness and their clear lack of design sense when it comes to websites, this is one great website for finding virtually any kind of shoelace that you may need! I did finally find the shoe laces I’d spent many, many months searching for!
While searching for laces I also happened upon a very cool website that’s dedicated entirely to providing books, videos and other resources for people who want to learn the art of shoe making. The site is called Shoemakingbook.com and it was put together by Tim Skyrme a retired shoe maker from Austrailia. He wrote an extensive guide about every aspect of hand crafting of shoes. He calls it the Bespoke Shoe Making Book.
He also provides many other resources for learning the art of shoemaking. There’s a extensive list with links to shoemaking schools in 40+ countries around the world as well as quite a few videos that he made which instruct in various aspects of construction. Last he’s included links to many other resources like patterns, lasts and other supplies, and shoemaker’s forums and guilds where many more resources are available.
- Compelling Science Fiction
If you happen to love science fiction as much as I do you should check out this great new free online resource for science fiction literature. It’s science fiction published in a magazine format called Compelling Science Fiction. The minds behind the magazine are all young brilliant scientists and their focus is on hard science.