Superb Sites: 19 Websites That Are Worthy of Your Time

There are over one and half billion websites on the internet, though not all of these are active.  Still, that’s one heck of a lot of websites.  How then, do you know which ones are worth visiting?  In this article we’ll look at just nineteen – hopefully, they’ll be a few you haven’t heard of.  By the time we’re through, you may even wish you’d found some of them sooner.

So what are they?

(click on one to go directly to that section)

Image

Openclipart

https://openclipart.org/

Looking for clipart?  With Openclipart, you’ve certainly come to the right place.  The search bar at the top allows you to type in whatever you’re looking for.  Clipart can be downloaded completely free of charge, and different file types can be chosen, including options such as png, svg and pdf.  It can even be used commercially with no limitations!

There’s also a useful online editor, which is surprisingly powerful. This can be used for editing clipart before downloading it, or even creating your own clipart from scratch.  There are a range of shapes and objects available.  You can add text as well.  Layers are supported, as is transparency – not bad, all from within a web browser.

The Openclipart website let’s you view statistics, such as the most downloaded clipart and the top artists.  If you really want to get involved, set up a free account and talk directly with artists, or become one yourself.

Photopea

https://www.photopea.com/

Photopea is an Online Image Editor.  It supports multiple types of file, including Photoshop’s PSD, GIMP’s XCF, and even RAW photos.  You can also export to a range of popular file types, such as PNG, JPG, SVG, etc.  When creating a new project, a template (graphic or photo) can be selected, or you can start from scratch with a blank canvas.

All of the fundamentals are covered, with the image editor supporting such tools as rectangular and ellipse select, lasso, magic wand, crop, brush, pencil, clone, eraser, gradient, blur, sharpen, type (text), shapes, and more.  You can adjust levels and curves, work with layers and masks (a dropdown menu provides access to modes, among those listed are darken, lighten, and overlay).

Photopea works with both raster and vector graphics.  A selection of filters are available, including the usual suspects: gaussian blur, noise, and sharpen.  Images can be opened and edited in multiple tabs.  You also have the option to “install the app” on your computer.  This simply puts the program in its own window, and creates a shortcut on the desktop and start menu.  Note. As with the web browser, the web app still requires an internet connection to run.

You can sign up for a free account, which will allow you to sync your settings across multiple devices to aid your work flow.  The website uses ads (displayed in a side bar) to support the free version.  These seem fairly unobtrusive, but if you want to remove them, a paid for “Premium” version of Photopea is available.

Pixabay

https://www.pixabay.com/

Pixabay is home to over one million images and is a great website if you find yourself in need of some free stock photos.  All of the pictures on the site are free (even for commercial use, but do check the website’s full terms), you can modify them, if you wish – and while attribution is appreciated, it’s not a requirement.

Besides being able to search for photos, Pixabay let’s you view those the Editor has selected in Editor’s Choice (note, the site also hosts videos).  When you’ve found something you’d like to download, click on it.  You can then select the size of image your require from the dropdown menu.

Be aware, if you want to download a photo above a certain resolution (in other words, if you want the best quality on offer), you will need to create a free account.  This does have the added benefit of being able to post on the website’s forum, rather than just reading the content.  It also allows you to share your own images, if you’d like to help others.

The website provides the option to turn on SafeSearch – a great idea if you have little ones.  So, whether you need a photo for your online blog, an image for your website, or just a picture to put in your club newsletter, you can’t go wrong with Pixabay.

Remove Image Background

https://www.remove.bg/

This one’s as simple as it is useful.  Want to get rid of a photo’s background quickly?  That’s the sole goal when it comes to the aptly named Remove Image Background.  Sure, you could do this in any decent image editor, but you won’t do it as fast as remove.bg – five seconds according to the homepage.  Upload your photo (or enter the URL, if it’s on a website) and you’ll be shown the “Original image” and the “image without background”.  If you’re happy with the results, click the “Download” button.  Job done – you don’t even need to create an account.  If you’re not happy with the results, you do have the option to carry out some basic editing on the image before saving (downloading) it.

The site uses some clever AI technology to complete the task, which brings me to the first of two caveats.  Though it does a good job with images containing a person or an object, it doesn’t always work successfully.  As the website states, you need to “select an image that either has at least one person in it or is a photo of a product”.  Second, if you require a higher resolution, you will need a paid for account (though you can sign up for one free HD image).  Also note, the website is only free for personal use.

Music

Audionautix

https://audionautix.com/

Looking for some music to add to an online video or podcast?  Then check out Audionautix.  The music is created by a single composer, Jason Shaw, but there’s a wide range of genres.  You can search by Genre, Mood, or even Tempo, so hopefully there’ll be something to suit your needs.  All music on the site is released under Creative Commons License 3.0, which means you are free to use it (even commercially) provided you either link back to the website, or credit them with “music by audionautix.com”.

Security & Privacy

DuckDuckGo

https://duckduckgo.com/

Concerned Google and Bing are hoovering up too much of your online data?  Then how about trying a privacy focused search engine instead.  This is the aim of DuckDuckGo.  An unusual name, to be sure, but don’t let that put you off.  This is a search engine, that unlike the big names, doesn’t store your personal information, nor does it follow you around with ads.  In a nutshell, it basically doesn’t track you.

In part, this can be confirmed as some of DuckDuckGo’s source code is open source software (released under the Apache 2.0 License), which is a good thing as it means that anyone can view the code.  Unfortunately the core is proprietary, though.  Still, it’s a step in the right direction in gaining the user’s trust.

As with the big hitters, DuckDuckGo can likewise be used to search the web for all content, or narrow the focus to something more specific, such as Images, Videos, or News.  There are a few themes available, including the ubiquitous “Dark” (making things easier on the eyes), which seems to be found in just about all software these days.  It’s easy to specify your region, and adjust Safe Search to the required level.  You can also specify the age of your search results (how long ago the content was posted).

As the website says, “Switch to DuckDuckGo and take back your privacy.”

Have I Been Pwned?

https://haveibeenpwned.com/

While we’re on the subject of privacy, surely one of the biggest concerns in our modern, interconnected world, is that none of our online accounts have been compromised.  That’s the aim of have i been pawned?  Unfortunately it won’t stop the breach itself – not even setting the most super secure password can always prevent that, though it will certainly help – but this website will let you know if it’s aware of any of your accounts having potentially been exposed.

Simply visit the website and enter any email address(es) you have used to sign up to an online service – it could be Facebook, Twitter, Google, even a small forum you joined – then click the “pwned?” button.  If you’re lucky, the result will come back clear.  More than likely though, one or more of your accounts may have been compromised.  Note. A positive result doesn’t definitively mean that it’s your account that’s been hacked, it simply reveals that the company suffered a security breach, so your data may have been leaked.  Regardless, if any of your accounts are flagged up on the list, you should set about logging in and resetting the password immediately.

Remember, just because you did nothing wrong (you didn’t use an insecure password, for example) doesn’t mean your accounts are safe.  The company may have suffered a data breach (hackers often gain backdoor access into the very servers where all our precious data is stored) enabling your – and many others – account details to be stolen; the larger the company, the more likely this will happen as the bad guys specifically target them to gain more data.  Two factor authentication is a good way to increase an account’s security, but it’s not infallible and does have the downside of making logging in a little more cumbersome.

Just Delete Me

https://backgroundchecks.org/justdeleteme/

This is a useful service.  Setting up an online account is usually pretty easy – the website owner’s want to make the process as simple as possible to encourage you to do it – but that’s not often the case if you ever want to leave.  Indeed, some sites seem to go out of their way to make it as hard as possible.  That’s where Just Delete Me comes in.

This website could potentially save hours of your time.  Search for the website you would like to leave by entering its name and clicking on the magnifying glass, or find it by searching alphabetically.  Once the result your looking for comes up, you can select “SHOW INFO…” for more information, or click the company’s name to get started.

You should be taken straight to part of the website that allows you to leave – this may require you to log in first to access you account.  Note. Even once you’ve found the right place, some websites make it much harder than others to actually close your account – in fact, some won’t let you close it at all, and the best you can do is to try and remove any data that may be used to identify you.  At least Just Delete Me will tell you where in this spectrum your chosen website lies (from easy to impossible).

So, go get removing those unused accounts.  It could be that you found one on Have I Been Pwned that you’d completely forgotten about and now it’s potentially been compromised – in which case, it’s even more important that you close it down.

Software

AlternativeTo

https://alternativeto.net/

Have you ever used a program that went out of production, or perhaps the software you’ve been using has become too expensive?  AlternativeTo let’s you type in a program’s name and find alternatives (who’d have guessed from the name of the website!)  I did a quick search for “Microsoft Office Word”, which brought up results like “LibreOffice Writer”, “Google Docs” and “WPS Writer”.  Not only is each of these a perfectly viable replacement option, but, in this instance at least, all of them are free (for personal use, at any rate, and LibreOffice can even be used commercially).

If for no other reason than good old fashioned curiosity, make a list of your favourite software and then go have a look at what else is out there.  Who knows, there may be some hidden gem just waiting for you to discover it, and you may even save some money in the process!

DistroWatch

https://distrowatch.com/

DistroWatch’s tagline is “Put the fun back into computing. Use Linux, BSD.”  With my computing preference having increasingly veered towards Linux over the years, I could just leave it there.  However, a little more information may be in order.  DistroWatch is the place to visit to see what’s happening in the world of free and open source operating systems.

Linux, and BSD, are free alternatives to Windows and Mac OS.  Unlike the more mainstream operating systems, there is a LOT more choice, which can be both good and bad.  It’s good in that, if you don’t like one of them, you can simply choose another, but this amount of choice can also be off-putting to new users, not knowing where to start in the first place.

DistroWatch allows you to view what’s on offer and find more information about the various distributions (or Distros, as Linux and BSD operating systems are usually called).  The site even has a chart showing the most popular.

LibreHunt

https://librehunt.org/

Whether you’re fed up with never ending Windows updates, or just fancy a change from your Mac, LibreHunt is a great website for anyone looking to begin their journey migrating to Linux – it could also be of use to those already familiar with the operating system.  You start by answering a series of questions – topics such as how you use your computer, your current technical knowledge, and what type of hardware you have – and then submit your answers.

From here, the website works out which distro would be the most suitable for your requirements – taking a lot of the confusion out of the process, which is particularly great for beginners who can find the vast choice overwhelming.  You can then click the link to take you straight to the recommended distro’s website.  Such a fantastic resource, and it’s all been created by a young developer who’s still at school!

Support

Down For Everyone Or Just Me

https://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/

This is an interesting one.  Say you’re having problems accessing a particular site.  Your internet connection seems fine – everything else is working okay, but there’s one website that just won’t load.  How do you know if it’s the website having problems, or your computer?  That’s the point of Down For Everyone Or Just Me.

You type in the address of the site you’re trying to visit and click the “or just me?” button.  You’ll then be notified if it’s just you that’s having the problem.  If it’s not, and the website is down, there’s not a lot you can do other than wait, but at least you’ll know it’s not your equipment that’s letting you down.  If, on the other hand, it is an issue with your computer, you can set about fixing it.  Fingers crossed, it may be that clearing your web browser’s cache to delete all the temporary files is all that’s required.

Utility

Firefox Send

https://send.firefox.com/

Need to send a large file to a friend?  Sure, you could sign up to Google Drive or Dropbox, et al, but you may not want to create an account, even a free one.  Firefox Send allows you to send files up to one gigabyte in size straight from your web browser, simple as that – and you don’t even need to use the Firefox browser!  The service also uses end-to-end encryption to keep things secure.

To get started, visit the website and click the “Select files to upload” button and browse to the file (or files) you’d like to send.  Next, an expiry time or download limit can be set, and, optionally, a password for extra protection.  Once uploaded, copy the link (which you give to the recipient – you could email or text it, for example).  Then the person you’ve given it to pastes the link into a web browser (again, it doesn’t have to be Mozilla’s Firefox).  If you’ve employed password protection, this will have to be entered first, if not the file(s) can be downloaded straight away.

Tone’s Tip. Bear in mind, the 1 GB limit is total, so if , for arguments sake, you wanted to send 2 x 750 MB files, you would have to send them separately, as together they would exceed the total allowed file size.

If you need to send an even bigger file, Firefox Send supports up to 2.5 GB, though you will need to create a free account to do this.

Lettercount

https://www.lettercount.com/

The title says it all.  This website is designed to count your characters.  Why would you want to do this, you may well ask?  You might be using a service, such as Twitter or Snapchat, that limits the amount of text you can send.  Lettercount is like an online calculator for letters.  Type (or paste) your text in and, with a click of the “Count characters” button, the site will tell you precisely how many letters your text contains.

The website also includes useful information regarding a few other services (including Facebook and eBay); outlining how characters in general are dealt with on those platforms.  It also shows you how to carry out word counts in other programs.  Like I said, this site is all about the letters.

Having picked your converter and file type, you upload your file (or files, as more than one can be uploaded at once) by clicking the “Choose Files” button.  There are optional settings that can be configured, for those looking for a spot of fine tuning.  For everyone else, click the “Start conversion” button.

Then, either wait until the conversion has finished, or tick the box to request it “Send a push notification to desktop when finished”. Alternatively, you can ask to be notified by email when the file has been converted, or copy a URL that you can visit again later.  Whatever you decide to do, the end result will be saving your converted file.  The site does have a few ads that aren’t always particularly discrete, but then it is free to use, after all.

Online converter

https://www.online-convert.com

Do you have a file that needs converting into a different file type.  Whether it’s a wav audio track you’d like to turn into an mp3, a video codec that won’t play on your Xbox, or even an ebook you need to convert, the Online converter website has got you covered.

Converting files from one format to another is the name of the game here, whether it be audio, video, image, document, ebook, or archive – there’s a webservice converter and a hash generator, too – and it’s all done using nothing more than your web browser.  No software to install, no plugins… even registration is optional.

The site covers a pretty comprehensive list of file types, and you can read detailed information about any that you’re interested in.  There’s also a handy Frequently Asked Questions section and a blog.  To get going, choose the converter you want to use by clicking the “Select target format…” dropdown underneath it.  Here you pick the type of file you want to create.  For example, I may have a Windows Media Video (wmv) that I want to convert into a Google WebM (VP8) file, so I’d select “Convert to WEBM” from the “Video converter” dropdown list.

Video

Pexels Videos

https://www.pexels.com/videos/

Looking for a video to use as part of a presentation, or to put on a website to visualise a topic?  Pexels Videos provides thousands of free stock videos that can be used for both non-commercial and commercial use.  Attribution is not required, though it is appreciated (you should check the full licensing details on the website).

Videos can be searched for – just enter a keyword (such as “river” or “car”, for example).  You can view the most popular videos, see what’s trending, or look at what’s new.  Click on a video to download it, then click the “Free Download” button and save it to your computer.  Creating an account is optional, though it’s free to do if you want one.  Note. Pexels also hosts royalty free images as well.

Web

Bitly

https://bitly.com/

Have you ever sent a link to a website to a friend or colleague?  If it’s to the homepage, that’s usually fine as it’s probably something straightforward, like https://en.wikipedia.orgBut what if it’s a page nestled deep within the site with some horrendous web address, like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_America#Countries,_territories,_and_dependencies, or something even longer?  That’s what Bitly is designed for.

Visit the web page you want to link to and copy the address.  Then paste it into the box on Bitly’s homepage and click “SHORTEN”.  This will generate something like https://bit.ly/2Ukl4Gr (which points to the same web page as the long link above).  See how much shorter the new link is, and how much easier that makes it to share – especially when dealing with services that limit the amount of characters you can enter.

Tone’s Tip. If you find yourself using this service a lot, you can sign up for a free account, then install the Bitly extension into your web browser.  This will enable you to convert a web address into a shortened link at the click of a button.

Reddit

https://www.reddit.com/

Okay, so you may have heard of this one, it’s a huge site after all.  Indeed, Reddit refers to itself as the front page of the internet.  But have you actually used it?  There’s news, pictures, memes and videos on practically any topic you care to think of (these are known as subreddits), and it’s all accessible in one place – hence the website’s tagline.

Sign up for a free account and you can personalise the experience.  Having an account also allows you to subscribe, vote, and comment on your favourite content.  So, if you haven’t already dived into Reddit, give it a go today.  There’s also a useful app you can put on your smartphone so as to get easy access on the go!