Ten Unusually Useful Web Sites

By  |  Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I spend lots of time patrolling the Net for sites that can help me with my life. Some are pinpointed to something I might need right away, like a way to get the phone number of a company. Others are spots I know I’ll need someday, such as instructions for recovering a ring from a drainpipe or how to wrap an extension cord like a pro.

I’ve got a stack of these places for you; some may hit your nail on the head, so to speak; others won’t do a thing for you.

Get Me Some Help

I used to rely solely on GetHuman to find a company phone number and get the skinny on the menu prompts for quick navigation. Now GetHuman has an ally: Contact Help, a relatively new site with contacts GetHuman doesn’t list.

Image you’re trying to choose between two companies, say, satellite TV services, or maybe banks. Consult with¬†CustomerService Scoreboard and get some background before you sign up

Photo Retouching You Won’t Believe

This video of the upcoming Adobe Photoshop upgrade’s Content Aware Fill feature is something you have to watch. Even if you don’t use Photoshop, you’ll be blown away by what it does. It’s a long video–but stay until the end when you’ll see a spectacular modification of a panoramic image.

You might never ever consider buying Photoshop. Even though it can work miracles on photos, it’s a PITA to learn. Instead you might want to send some of your photos to Master Photo Repair and let my buddy Chuck Hazendl, a professional, have a go at them. For instance, he can remove people from photos — or seamlessly add them.

Feed Me!

I love to cook. It lets the creative part of me play around in the kitchen. Now I know it’s April, and carving a turkey has nothing to do with technology. Yet here’s something I found incredibly useful: A video with a professional showing the right way to carve a turkey.

With the turkey in the fridge, there’s one question that always seems to come up: How long we can keep things in the fridge before they go bad. As a confirmed cheapskate, I often argue with my wife about whether something’s still edible if there’s fur growing on it. StillTasty has the answer. (That ground turkey? You have two days, pal.)

If you’re traveling and need restaurant advice, or need a second opinion on a recipe, log on to Chowhound. Select a location on the forum board and browse around–or fire off a question. Who knows, you may bump into me (I use my real name) or Judy (as Judybird).

Take Charge of Your Household

Besides cooking, I enjoy my role as Bass International handyman. (Since graduate school, I’ve also been the Laundry Queen, finding ways to remove spots and stains like you’ll never believe.)

I was looking for some I’m-going-to-save-thousands-and-paint-the-house-myself advice when I ran across the household section of Family Hack. Oh, is it cool. The first video I spotted was Something Down The Drain? Retrieve it Without a Wrench. Absolutely brilliant for retrieving a ring, but a contact lens? I dunno…

Just as valuable is WonderHowTo. I built a clay pot fountain (and found a bigger project: an outdoor fountain) and learned how to adjust the sprinklers.

One big thrill was discovering how to wrap a power extension cord without it getting tangled or squirrelly. (I’ve got to get a life, I know.) I watched what felt like hundreds of videos. This first video–No Tangle Extension Cord Storage–is the best of the bunch. This next technique is a favorite of roadies, people who handle sound equipment and cables for performers on the road. Here’s another roadie technique.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Give me the Web sites that give a boost to the quality of your life.

[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Pratik Says:

    The only thing less convincing that Chuck Hazendl’s work in adding and removing people in photos is the state of his website – it is utterly awful. His site is littered with prime candidates for the Photoshop Disasters blog.

    Evidently Steve Bass and I have different understandings of the word ‘seamlessly’ given the fact that he’s giving his ‘buddy’ Chuck such lavish praise. His work makes a mockery of the word ‘professional’.

  2. Pratik Says:

    After exploring more of his site, I just discovered the golden jewel – the ‘Special Effects’ tab where Chuck discovers how to use filters in Photoshop (hint: click a button). This is tawdry crap at its very best – Steve, you should be appalled for recommending him.

    Link: http://j.mp/bEClNl

  3. Michael Davis Says:

    Thanks for recommending Family Hack. We love you most of all. Really.


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