UBO's Top Websites/Services of 2012
With the coming end of the year, it's only appropriate to finally release UBO's top websites/services of 2012. In no particular order, the sites on this list are:
Despite the recent scandal that rocked the hallowed halls of BBC, BBC's online service still beats out the Times, China Daily, MSNBC, Channel News Asia, and CNN. Their coverage of Latin America, Asia, and U.S. events is impressive and thorough. They also break down the economic events that have brought the downfall of the EU and the Euro for non-economists like me with a glossary of terms and a map of events. I've already praised BBC's exceptional library of podcasts in a different blog entry, but I'd like to throw in the ring their underrated BBC radio, which even has entertaining audiobooks running 24/7. What really impresses me with BBC, however, is that they don't charge readers despite their consistent and balanced content.
PCWorld is nothing more than a facade for online stores with embarrassing articles such as those written by their sole "Linux" correspondent who only repeats whatever she reads online in 6 paragraphs or less. PCMag and CNET are only worth reading for the sheer ignorance, bias, and poorly written articles by its writers. Meanwhile, Ars Technica offers a wide range of intelligent articles on science, technology, hardware, software, Linux, consumer electronics, and industry trends. They don't offer much multimedia but they make up for it with a usable interface and diligently written articles. Once in awhile, they throw in an occasional human interest piece on gaming and comic books, too.
Unlike the early adopters, I didn't sign up impulsively when Microsoft offered a new Outlook e-mail address. I didn't need one considering how I've kept my old Hotmail account all these years and I'm still using it despite the unfair comparison it gets with Gmail. These days, I open up my Hotmail account in Outlook.com whether I'm in my Linux machines or in Windows 7. Dependable and speedy transfers to the reinvigorated SkyDrive make it invaluable even if you aren't a Windows user. Dropbox's cross-platform abilities make it pretty awesome, but I've neglected it recently for SkyDrive, which has apps for iOS and Android. Even if you don't like the Windows 8 tiles they integrated into Outlook and SkyDrive, you have to admit it makes switching back and forth from one service to the other quick and easy.
After being shipped to Shanghai, I found myself relying on 360Buy for my online shopping (which is only once a year anyway). However, Amazon remains invaluable even if you aren't one of those crazed Black Friday enthusiasts. Amazon, ironically, serves as a good benchmark for available products out there and is useful for an online version of "showrooming". Buyer reviews are generally also more intelligent and dependable (check out reviews for the complete DVD set of The Real Ghostbusters). You also have to give Amazon credit for trying to muscle in on Apple's turf with their Kindle products. It's always fun to visit Amazon even if you don't have the cash to buy anything - you'll read rants from audiophiles, tech geeks, fanboys, movie buffs, and spoiled consumers complaining about how much they paid for shipping and how it was cheaper elsewhere.
Unlike that guy from Three and a half Men, I'm not going to bite the hand that feeds me. I've been tempted to open a Tumbler account for years but realize that Blogger is just fine for my needs even if Blogger is blocked in China (Tumbler isn't). My e-mail posts (such as this entry) get uploaded just fine and Blogger hasn't complained about the images I've uploaded. Unsolicited But Offered's small successes is due in no small part to Blogger being part of Google's network. Blogger is also less pretentious than Wordpress and gets more online visibility than other free services like Weebly. And the best part of Blogger? It's not Twitter. It's not Facebook. I can still tell myself I'm not part of the "social networking" phenomenon.