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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 15:40 GMT
Kate Russell
By Kate Russell
Click Webscape-r

Kate Russell gives us her latest selection of the best sites on the World Wide Web.

Holswap website

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It is never too early to be thinking about next year's holiday, and it is never too early to start saving up for it either.

Let us face it, taking the whole family away for a change of scenery can be an expensive business, but not if you get yourself along to Holswap.

Remember having exchange students in school when you were younger? This is the same principle, only the whole family swaps homes for a short vacation, which is an incredibly cheap way of organising a holiday.

First you have to find a place you would like to stay. Use the drop-down menus along the top to select a country and province.

At the next screen you can refine your search, or even use the link to look for a holiday swapper who has specified your area in their "wants". Each property is posted with detailed description about the accommodation and area, and in most cases there are pictures too.

You will also find details of what the owner wants in return, and a way to get in touch with them at the bottom. The usual caveats about meeting strangers off the internet apply.

Thorn Tree Forum

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If you are thinking about a holiday, the first thing to establish is where you want to go. And with so many interesting and diverse destinations opened-up by cheap air travel, you would be well advised to check out the posts on the Thorn Tree Forum.

Lonely Planet is famous for providing destination guides to adventurous travellers, and so it makes sense that their forum is a thriving and very helpful global community who will be only to happy to answer your queries.

Heading to Helsinki and need a nice restaurant to take a loved one to? Making a trip to Mexico and not sure which currency will get you the best exchange rates?

These are just a couple of the kinds of questions you will find listed here, with dozens and dozens of replies from helpful locals, or those who have travelled there themselves.

I do not really like the structure of this site. If you click on a region in the departure lounge, it is not immediately obvious that the section contains more than one long thread. Instead click the "countries covered link beside it to see a more specific list.

Other than that it works just like a standard forum, you will need to register to post a question or reply.

HowJsay website

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Tim Bowyer sent us this site, which is a must visit for anyone travelling to an English speaking country who wants a hand getting to grips with the lingo.

HowJsay.com is a simple concept, presented simply. It is an English pronunciation dictionary with audio guide to make sure you get your "P's and Q's" spot on.

You will need sound, unsurprisingly, then just type the word you need help with in the box provided and type submit.

The closest match the website has will be presented below, and an audio file triggered automatically showing you how it is pronounced. To repeat the audio simply click the word again.

Technorati website

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Blogs are a great way for people to easily have their own soapbox on the internet, and at Technorati there is a fabulous resource to help you sort through the immense range of subjects covered.

According to the website there are about 75,000 new blogs started every day, with around 50,000 new posts happening every hour - that is 1.2m a day. It is no surprise that you will need a hand finding your way around.

The site itself is so well laid out you will be jumping into the content you want pretty quickly.

Type a keyword in the search box provided, then refine your search further by selecting one of the drop-down options beside it.

The next page offers your results, just click a link to open-up the blog in question.

There are lots of other features on the site, as well as links and recommendations for some of the most popular blogs on the web.

Definitely worth a browse if you want to discover something new today.

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