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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 17:15 GMT
Webscape
Kate Russell
By Kate Russell
Click Webscape-r

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

Backofmyhand.com


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

You know your own neighbourhood like the back of your hand, right?

Know all the best places to eat, and all the best shops to splurge your cash? All the best spots for a romantic walk? Well is it not about time you shared it with the world?

Backofmyhand.com is a place where you can do just that using the architecture of Microsoft's Live Local website, which you will find at maps.live.com

If you are not familiar with this powerful mapping tool, the backofmyhand website has a nice easy tutorial that steps you through the process of making a Collection. You will need to register, but if you have a Hotmail or MSN Messenger account you can use your Live ID to log in.

On completing a Collection in Live Local you will be given a URL. Use this when you click the button on the backofmyhand website to submit a collection so that other users of the site can see your suggestions.

Use the panels on the left to define your search or you can just click through the popular and recommended Collections. Selecting a collection will launch the Live Local website with map markers and pictures describing the entries that have been highlighted.


News Now

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

It is difficult to remember what life was like before the internet.

Certainly as a journalist I rely on my net connection to keep me up-to-date with what is going on in the world, but with literally billions and billions of pages to consult, cutting your way through to the news that matters can seem like a daunting task.

News Now is a portal site that feeds the headlines you need directly to your browser, so you can quickly identify the stories you are looking for.

The opening page is clear and concise, with news headlines listed in palatable categories. Each section displays the most up-to-the-minute headlines, taken from over 30,000 news sources and updated every five minutes.

A small graphic of a flag will tell you the originating country of the article, and grey text beside it tells you when and where it was posted.

For more targeted headlines you can either use the drop-down menus on the left or if you are looking for a particular story you can search for it. Though it is worth noting you can only type one keyword in here, so you are likely to get a multitude of different results to select from before reaching the information you want.


The New York Times

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

I want to show you another site now that is dedicated to delivering the news.

There is no shortage of sites like this on the web, but what makes The New York Times site stand out for me is the variety of interactive tools they include to help you do more than just passively read what is happening in the world.

The design, in the style of a laid out newspaper is familiar, but somewhat complex at first glance.

Each headline is displayed with a passage of text introducing the story and icons linking to video, sound and other great interactive content where it is available.

Let us take the example of the debate analyser for the US elections, you can watch a video of the filmed debate - Democratic or Republican, with the text transcribed to the right and the option to jump to topics within the programme.

All very useful, but the real heart of this interactive gizmo is under the transcript analyser tab.

Here they have laid out the entire debate in a visual format that allows you to analyse and compare the participants words. Just type a word in the search box at the top and the word count analyser will tell you who said what and how many times.

Hover your mouse over the marks in the transcript map and a pop-up will let you read that section of text. I found this tool invaluable in helping me see through the rhetoric and get an impression of what issues were really important to the candidates.


Poodwaddle

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Poodwaddle is essentially a one-stop-shop for all the useful little apps you might want on your homepage. From diaries, to calculators, to world clocks, to search tools. All graphically very pleasing and extremely easy to use.

Take a look around the default layout to see what you can have.

I really like the World and Earth Clocks, both listed under the Popular Pages section. These clocks display real time statistics about things like population growth, barrels of oil pumped and garbage created.

To lay out your own page preferences just click the Editor link on the left. You can now move items around the page by dragging them with the handle. Use the minus sign to get them off the page and the plus sign for a pop-up of new apps you can add.

All this is stored in your computer's memory using cookies, so there is no need to register or log in, and each time you visit the site all your preferences and notes will be there for you to see.

If only everything in life were that simple.



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