Kate Russell gives us her latest selection of the best sites on the World Wide Web.
By Kate Russell
BBC Click Online Webscape-r
We start this week with something a little different - not a website as such, but applications offered by a website, which could prove very useful indeed.
As mobile phones become more like mini-computers they are increasingly able to store all sorts of information, but most of the time we don't take advantage because it is just too fiddly or complicated to transfer the information from our computers.
Enter Vazu, a tool designed to easily transfer information from your PC to your mobile - no cables, Bluetooth or infra-red required. Once you have checked your phone is compatible and set up a registration, you will discover the basic principle: essentially the information you want to transfer is sent to Vazu, which then forwards it by text message onto your phone.
The applications has different facets. One is transferring your contacts directly from your PC. Often the thought of manually inputting all your contacts into your mobile is so off-putting that we do not get round to doing it, especially when we have to do it all over again whenever we upgrade. Vazu solves that problem. Select the contacts you want to transfer from a compatible program, e-mail them off to Vazu, and check your account. From there you can edit them or add more. Once you are happy, hit send, and within seconds they will be arriving on your phone.
Another feature is called Vazu Click. Once it is installed you will be able to select any phone number, or even text, and with a single click send it to your mobile - useful if you have got driving directions, or the address of a restaurant you are going to.
There are a few caveats to bear in mind. The service is not available everywhere, though coverage is expanding. And while it is free at the moment there are plans to charge soon, so get in quickly. Also bear in mind that in some parts of the world your mobile network operator may charge you to receive text messages.
Overall it is a clever idea, and one of those refreshingly enlightening times when technology appears designed to solve a specific problem.
As more and more people begin to experiment with creativity in computing, sites like this, offering free stuff to help you enhance the appearance of your designs and documents, are becoming more and more useful.
Larabie Fonts is one of many websites offering free fonts for use in PC and Macintosh applications, but what caught my eye was the overall design and functionality of the site. The colours and layout are pretty in-your-face, but they have a starkness that suits the nature of the content, and the instructions are all pretty clear and to the point.
But the important bit on this site is the page of downloadable fonts, which are all based around the design concept of being drawn with a Letraset - a plastic sheet or strip with letters and numbers cut out so that you can draw them onto a piece of paper by pressing a pen or pencil through the cut out. There is a good selection of imaginative free fonts available here and they are clearly laid out for you to browse and download.
Viewer Paul Rickard wrote in to ask me to take a look at the website he created for his Band, Flytrap Soul.
Paul, I must congratulate you on your design work. The intro is great. It loads really quickly and is not too long, which is important when you are trying to attract the attention of the casual surfer. I also really like your use of loading transitions, the animations that play in the foreground when each new section is loading up - they are far more imaginative than just a boring old progress bar.
Inside the pages are logically linked and well laid out, with information about the band members, gig dates and albums all just a click or two away. Links to the audio, video and picture content are found across the top. It is not streaming, which means a wait for the download to finish before you can enjoy their work, but I thought it was worth the wait. This is a great example of a well-designed promotional site.
This site, sent in to us by Julian Yeo, is for entertainment purposes only. The humour is pretty off the wall, but I found it right up my street. It is basically a site centred on a popular Flash cartoon character called StrongBad, and his associates.
On the site you can watch fun flash toons, play games and all sorts of other stuff. I love the interface, which looks like an old-fashioned console viewer - and when you click through and select a game your transition is an animation reminiscent of space invaders (very cute). Do not expect anything too intellectual though - it is a just a bit of off-the-wall fun and some excellent flash animations.
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