Below—in no particular order—are the ten best ‘Sites of the Week’ of the past year.
If you’re not ready yet to give up your landline, this is a no-brainer. We switched to Ooma almost 10 months ago and there’s no looking back. We’re saving roughly $500 per year with all of our former call features and a couple of new ones we really like. You can purchase the Ooma box at many locations for $150 or less. Set-up is easy and takes just minutes. You can use your existing phones and voice quality is excellent. Ooma offers both basic and premium service plans. The basis plan is FREE. You pay only applicable taxes and fees (typically $3 – $5/month). The premium plan is $100 annually or $9.99/month and offers all of the features we had with the phone company plus a few extras such as the option to simultaneously ring your mobile phone and home phone. You can also receive e-mail messages with an mp3 file attachment of voice messages. We’ve had our home phone number for years so we chose to keep it. Porting it to Ooma was free and took less than a week. You can try Ooma risk-free. The Ooma box has a 30-day return policy and Ooma offers a 60-day free trial of their premium service.
You may already have your favorite travel site. If so, keep it but start with this site for a great overview where you can search for both hotels and flights and then if you prefer finalize your travel plans at your favorite site. For flights, enter departure and destination airports and dates and a Gantt chart of flights is displayed. You can sort by agony (combination of price, duration and number of stops), price, duration, departure or arrival. Hotel results can be sorted by ecstasy (combination of price, reviews and amenities), price, reviews or distance.
LowCards.com is the leading consumer resource for credit card information. Since 2000, LowCards.com has offered trustworthy research on thousands of credit card offers. You’ll find lists of the best cards in each category: Low Interest Credit Cards, Balance Transfer Cards, Airline/Hotel/Gas Cards, Cash Back Cards and other types.
TeamViewer is a FREE (for personal use) remote access and file sharing program compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and iOS. With TeamViewer, you can provide remote assistance, remote administration or remote teaching for friends and family regardless of their location. TeamViewer connects remote computers within seconds without any installation or configuration. You can view and/or control (using your keyboard and mouse) any applications running on the remote computers.
Dashlane is a FREE password manager and form auto-fill that saves and generates secure passwords and automatically fills online forms. Dashlane also offers Android and iPhone clients. With a paid premium subscription, you also have automatic cloud backups, syncing of passwords across all your devices, Web access to your passwords and priority support. (Alternatively, you can install the free copy on each of your devices and just export your passwords from one computer, tablet or phone to the other devices. The Dashlane site even includes instructions.) If you share your PC, Dashlane can store multiple name/password combinations for each site. A master password secures all of your passwords. If your device is lost or stolen, you can also remotely disable your copy of Dashlane at Dashlane.com. Any access to your data from that device will then be denied.
Square Inc., the brainchild of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has made mobile payments even easier with Square Cash. You can email cash, free of charge, directly from your debit card to anyone—regardless of what bank each party uses. There’s no login or password to remember and no special software or hardware required. Square Cash permits you to transfer up to $2,500 a week. Currently, the service is only available in the U.S. and with debit cards carrying either the Visa or MasterCard logo and cannot be used for online purchases.
To transfer funds, compose an email with the payee’s email address in the “To” field. In the “CC” field, enter “firstname.lastname@example.org.” In the subject field, enter the payment amount. Either leave the message body blank or include a note explaining the reason for the payment and send it. Square emails first-time users a link to enter your debit card information. Once Square verifies your debit card number and confirms you have sufficient funds, it sends your payee two emails: the one from you and a second from Square stating that you are transferring funds. If the transfer is accepted and this is the first use of the service by the payee, Square will request the payee’s debit card information. Once verified, the funds are transferred in 1-2 days directly from your bank account to theirs. If fraud is suspected, the company says it will reverse the transfer. The service notifies you via email or text that it has received a transfer request so you can cancel the transaction if you didn’t initiate it or it was a mistake. Walt Mossberg, author of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, wrote “I tested Square Cash, sending and receiving money in amounts ranging from $10 to over $1,000, with eight people, and it worked rapidly and flawlessly. I can recommend it for anyone who needs to pay a small debt, give a cash gift, split a bill, or send cash quickly and easily.”
Prey is a small program that is designed to help you recover a lost or stolen laptop, tablet or smartphone. One activated, Prey silently connected to any network and then gathers information on the location and status of your device and can optionally sound a loud alarm, capture screenshots and even photos, lock down or wipe the device, or monitor online activity. Both a free and pro version are available.
If your plans include going somewhere on vacation in 2014, this site may be for you. Redweek.com is an exchange for timeshare owners and travelers to connect. The site features detailed resort information including ratings and reviews for thousands of timeshare rental and resale postings. Redweek.com is the largest online timeshare site with over 1.5 million registered users.
Social Security Timing
If you’re approaching retirement age, this site should be of interest. For married couples, there are nearly 100 combinations of benefit choices. This site features a free calculator that asks just a few questions and then recommends a few strategies that can maximize your benefits. Although the calculator is free, not surprisingly they encourage you to contact one of their advisors.
Face to gif
Here’s your chance to express yourself and show some creativity. Face to gif is a fun site that uses your Webcam to record an animated gif. The application is client side which means no one will see your gif unless you choose to save the gif file. Just don’t get too carried away or the file size will be too large. You can use the resulting gif for your profile on forum and social sites or insert in e-mails.