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Wed 1 Nov 2006 04:00 AM

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Best of the Web 2006

Each month our team checks out the very best the web has to offer, so here's our round-up of the very best URLs we’ve enjoyed this year. All that remains is for you to check them out!

|~|YouTube25.jpg|~||~| Each month our team checks out the very best the web has to offer, so here's our round-up of the very best URLs we’ve enjoyed this year. All that remains is for you to check them out!

YouTube is arguably already a social phenomenon. Recently blocked (and even more recently unblocked) in the UAE, this site allows anyone and everyone to upload home movies, TV clips and other video format content, making it the super-site that Google Video aims to be. Whether you’re hunting out a new pop vid, your friend’s wedding movie or classic clips from famous gigs, the chances are you’ll find it here.||**|||~|FLICKR365.jpg|~||~|www.flickr.com

In our opinion, Flickr is the best online photo management and sharing application on the web right now. Not only can you use this site to store, view and share all your digital pictures, but this process is simple too thanks to the site’s recently added photo uploader tool. Best of all, users can comment on your snaps (creating a real sense of community and appreciation) and there are numerous ways to search for pictures of interest - from topic searches to a global map (Google Earth-style!). ||**|||~|Untitl3454.jpg|~||~|www.hi5.com

If you’re looking for friends from high school or college, we recommend checking out this site. HI5.com is an global online community where you can make new friends and find long-lost buddies for free. This is how it works: when you join, you create your own ‘friends list’, and as your friends join they create their own lists; you can then view their contacts and reconnect with old chums via these lists. Most HI5 users upload their pics with their profiles, so it’s easy to recognise your mates. ||**|||~|MYSpace23.jpg|~||~|www.myspace.com

Easily as much a pop phenomenon as YouTube, MySpace has already been credited with helping to launch some seriously big music acts (the Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen being two of the UK’s latest MySpace successes). But it’s not just about music. MySpace lets you create your own page, upload music and other creations, and then use this page as the starting point for you own private virtual community (through which you can share photos, journals and interests with your growing network of friends). ||**|||~|Google-Labs365.jpg|~||~|http://labs.google.com

Google is continually rolling out beta (test) versions of new applications and sites, so this is the URL you should visit to check them out. If you’re setting up a website for instance, Google Suggest will help you identify the most relevant keywords for use in its metatags and Adword promotions. Google Web Accelerator meanwhile has been designed to help you save time online by loading web pages faster, while Google Trends gives you a glimpse into what the entire world is searching for.||**|||~|pandora123.jpg|~||~|www.pandora.com

Part of the Music Genome Project, Pandora is an innovative, personalised online music resource. How it works is that you first search for a song you like and want to listen to, then in addition to listening to this online you can create your very own internet radio channel based on songs by - or like - this particular artist or band. Note: the free version of the service is restricted in terms of how many channels - or stations - you can create, and how much you can flick between tracks.||**|||~|McAfee-Site-Advisor98.jpg|~||~|www.siteadvisor.com

Here you’ll find a free downloadable plug-in application that, once installed inside your IE or Firefox web browser, keeps you out of cyber trouble by warning you which websites might feature spyware, worms, and other web threats. The program simply attaches tiny colour-coded icons to any links that appear on a list of search returns: a green check means it’s safe to proceed, a red X means it’s not; while a yellow icon indicates nuisances such as spam or pop-ups. Simple and effective.||**|||~|Alumni549.jpg|~||~|www.alumni.net

Alumni.net claims to have four million members worldwide and has reunited thousands of people over the last ten years. The site lists names of schools, colleges and companies all over the globe, including the U.A.E, Saudi, Qatar and many other countries besides. Here’s how it works: sign-up, click on the name of a country on the main page, next select the school (or company) that your friend used to attend and then search for them using their first or last name. Hey presto, you’re done!||**|||~|The-Emirates-Network23.jpg|~||~|http://theemiratesnetwork.com

Searching for a job in the UAE or Saudi? Then this site is for you. The site features a Ten Jobs section, catering to those who wish to work in Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Riyadh. Although the site is fairly basic, the selection of jobs and participating recruiters is quiet comprehensive. Ten Jobs also features a helpful and time-saving ME Jobs section, providing links to articles written for job hunters. In addition, the site features a thorough list of recruitment agencies from across the region. All in all, a job hunter’s best friend and a bookmark-worthy site.||**|||~|Skilllink54.jpg|~||~|www.skill-link.com

Skill-link.com caters to middle managers, experienced professionals and new graduates job hunting in Egypt and the Gulf region. To submit your CV to the site, use the site’s simple CV builder. Once you finish uploading your CV, a recruitment officer will review it before you can search for jobs. Although this may be seen as an inconvenience to some, it indicates that the site is professional and means business. On the whole, a helpful and serious online
recruiter for the region.||**|||~|Headhunt-ME265.jpg|~||~|www.headhunt-me.com

Headhunt-me.com is one of our very favourite regional job sites. The site is well-designed and can be viewed in both English and Arabic. Jobs hunters need not worry about a lack of vacancies in their field as the site features jobs in accounting, tourism and many, many more. Users can opt to receive a weekly e-mail update detailing all the new jobs in their area of expertise. Once a CV is posted, it will be on the site for 90 days, after which you will have to re-register. On the whole, a professional and good quality offering.||**|||~|Sympatico326.jpg|~||~|http://ecards.sympatico.ca

Looking for a card site that boasts a comprehensive collection and offers something different? If you answered yes then you’re in luck. Sympatico offers tons of impressive cyber cards for all occasions. Best of all, the site lets you create funky talking photo e-cards. The site's built-in tool lets you upload your photo, crop your face, animate it and then add a male or female voice. You can also add a cool frame. On the whole, a wonderful site for those looking to send cards with
a crazy twist.||**|||~|gamespy236.jpg|~||~|www.gamespy.com

If you enjoy multi-player gaming then gamespy.com is the site for you. The site is basically ICQ for gamers and features its own Gamespy software, which lets you chat with other users and set-up online games in quick time. Beside this, the site provides news, reviews and a huge collection of screen shots for popular games (however these are sometimes interrupted by a number of intrusive ads). Advertising aside, this is multi-player gaming heaven.||**|||~|itp365.jpg|~||~|www.itp.net

It might be a case shameless self promotion, but we really do consider itp.net to be the region’s premier portal for English and Arabic language IT and business news. For instance, you’ll find every Windows Middle East news story, feature, workshop and grouptest, plus archives of all these spanning back a full year. You’ll then find the same from our sister titles, such as Channel Middle East and Network ME. Not only that, but much of the content here is 100% exclusive - meaning it doesn’t even make it into our magazines! For your twice-monthly ‘hit’ of our exclusive Windows industry anaysis and consumer-focussed rants, head over to itp.net/newsletters. ||**|||~|KillSomeTime6565.jpg|~||~|www.killsometime.com

If you’re of a sensitive disposition and videos of people doing unimaginably painful things to themselves (and others) don’t appeal, then keep clicking because much of this site might make you feel queasy. For the rest of you sick puppies, surf this way. You’ll find pictures, flash movies - including a series of videos featuring one very windy preacher - and pictures too. It also has many links to other sites, such as Ebaumsworld(.com). As a lot of KillSomeTime’s content is video based, a broadband internet connection is recommended.||**|||~|Etihad213545.jpg|~||~| www.etihadairways.com

Etihad Airways, which was recently named ‘the world’s leading new airline’ for the third year running at the World Travel Awards (WTA), has one impressive online offering. In addition to flight schedules and information, its site for instance includes a travel ‘toolkit’, which includes a weather forecast tool, a list of international telephone codes and destination maps. Interestingly, the site requires users to register before they can book flights, but although this could be seen as a hinderence, it’s actually pretty useful as this way you can save your preferences (such as your contact details, your desired type of meal and seat preferences). ||**|||~|Air-Arabia659.jpg|~||~| www.airarabia.com

If you frequently travel around the region or to India, AirArabia.com is the way to go. The site lets you book tickets online and features a useful currency field, which lets you view prices in Dirhams or Indian Rupees and more. If you wish to visit the UAE and need a visa, the site provides the application form for download and a list of regional centres at which you can apply. In our D2M price test, the site quoted $196. That's $153 cheaper than Emirates. In a nutshell, a cinch to use and friendly fares galore!||**|||~|Blinkx653.jpg|~||~| www.blinkx.com

Blinkx TV is a search engine that allows you to search for audio, video, and podcasts using not only keywords and phrases, but also content in the actual clips that you’re looking for. For example, if you wanted to find Kermit the Frog’s ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ tune, you could type in ‘having to spend each day the colour of the leaves’, and Blinkx will be able to find your data using not only your content, but the concept behind your content - the spoken word (or in this case, the lyrics). Impressive.||**|||~|FindSounds265.jpg|~||~| www.findsounds.com

FindSounds.com is quite simply one of the most useful and fun audio file search engines we’ve come across. There are only a handful of dedicated sound search engines out there, and this site is definitely the cream of the crop. Using the site you can narrow down exactly what kind of sound file you’re looking for using search filters that include file formats, the number of channels, minimum sound resolution, minimum sample rate, and maximum file size. This engine is perfect for budding DJs then and those looking to create their own music.||**|||~|Mooload36.jpg|~||~| http://mooload.com

If you’re looking for a barebones file hosting site, then point your browser to http://mooload.com. Here’s how it works: once you’ve uploaded your file to the site's server you will be directed to a web page featuring a link to your file, which you can then e-mail to friends or co-workers. Although Moolad’s upload process isn't quite as fast as competitor site Megashares.com’s, it’s still plenty fast enough. If in doubt, try both sites and then decide. ||**|||~|Bugmenot235.jpg|~||~| www.bugmenot.com

BugMeNot.com was created as a means of quickly and easily bypassing the login of web sites that require compulsory registration and/or the collection of personal/demographic information (such as the New York Times’ site for instance). The thinking behind not manually registering with such sites, according to BugMeNot’s developers, is that it’s not just time-consuming, but a breach of privacy and that websites don’t always have a great track record “with the whole spam thing”. An interesting premise and worth a try at least. ||**|||~|Reverse-Speech325.jpg|~||~| www.reversespeech.com

It has been called the discovery of the 7th sense; ‘reverse speech’ refers to the phenomenon of hidden backward messages in speech and this is the official site of reverse speech technologies. It includes audio file examples of reverse speech (such as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Governor acceptance speech, which includes the reverse line, “Soon I’ll beat the law”), plus details of how you can gain reverse speech training, a multitude of in-depth articles, links to speech reversing machines and much, much more. ||**|||~|LIfehacker64.jpg|~||~| www.lifehacker.com

Computers don’t make us more productive, they give us more new ways with which to waste time and mess about! At least that’s the thinking of the developer behind Lifehacker. With the tagline. ‘Don’t live to geek; geek to live’, this site is all about using IT to actually become more efficient, in that it recommends software downloads and websites that can actually save you time. For instance, at the time of writing its homepage featured two weekend projects: one a starter’s guide to learning and using Linux, the other explaining how to save and convert those YouTube videos you just have to have. We also spied a great tweak for automating the spell check function in Outlook 2003.||**|||~|media-convert359.jpg|~||~| www.media-convert.com

Websites don’t get more useful than this. Media-Convert is a 100% free file conversion site and doesn’t require any registration; all you need is an internet browser and the location of the file or files you want to convert. This quick and simple-to-use page can convert all kinds of files, including audio tracks, video files, presentations, documents, spreadsheets and much more. So, if you need to change a WAV to an MP3 for use on your mobile phone, or you want your home video to be an MPG rather than an AVI file, then head this way. The site even includes a phone file format guide, which explains what types of audio file different cellphones support. Ingenious. ||**||

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