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Top 5 Picks for the Week, June 22, 2012

App Connections, a Feast for the Eyes, Entertaining Art, Day Trips, and Online Education

1. IFTTT; If This, Then That

Photo Credit: ifttt.com

Photo Credit: ifttt.com

We could all use a little help getting organized and eliminating extra steps in our daily lives.  The web service IFTTT (If This, Then That) is designed to save you time by creating connections between your favorite apps.  They walk you through setting up “recipes”, basic if/then statements, which link up your online activity.  Currently they can interact with 46 channels to accommodate your requests.  For example, if you would like to have your Facebook status updates also be instantly Tweeted, just create an account for free and click to activate.  The available actions area amazing utilizing sites such as YouTube, WordPress, Blogger, Evernote, and Instagram, just to name a few.  You can even have a recipe set up to receive an email or phone call when something you are searching for on Craigslist becomes available.  Tired of keeping an eye on the weather?  Use IFTTT to have text messages sent directly to your phone for warning notices.  Also a great resource for backing up material, you can have photos and other media be automatically sent to Dropbox.  You’ve got better things to do than visiting 3 different sites just to update a profile picture or constantly checking your favorite blog for new content.  Save your time and sanity and let IFTTT do the work for you.

2. Gawkerverse

Photo Credit: gawkerverse.com/

Photo Credit: gawkerverse.com/

Most of us love browsing the net for great ideas, inspiration, and just as a way of relaxing at the end of a long day.  I’m a big fan of Pinterest, as mentioned in a previous Top 5, for this exact reason.  However, recently I have also been drawn into the Gawkerverse.  Working on a similar platform, Gawker has several sites with a gallery style arrangement.  Unlike others, they only accept high-quality submissions and photos.  You are welcome to send in your own suggestions and articles, but they only choose the best, ensuring that what you see at the sites is well worth your time and the cream of the crop.  Most other sites that are open for users to freely post do a decent job of keeping out the inappropriate material.  But it seems that lately some are being overrun with tongue-in-cheek humor, multiple posts of the exact same thing, or scantily clad individuals showing off rock-hard abs and tattoos.  It’s refreshing to see Gawker rise above with professional style posts and beautiful layouts.  Gawkerverse is actually the blog section rounding up articles from their 4 different sister sites: Food Gawker, Craft Gawker, Wedding Gawker, and Dwelling Gawker.  It is a nice change of pace to have the photos and information separated into completely separate sites based on interest.  If I’m just looking for a new dish for dinner, I don’t want to get sucked into a time sieve sorting through everything else the web has to offer.  Creative and informative, they add new content every weekday that links up to the original post for full articles.  Give them a try for an elevated level of content and inspiration.

3. CMYBacon

Photo Credit: CMYBacon.com

Photo Credit: CMYBacon.com

CMYBacon is a fun site dedicated to clever art and design. Writer Martin Refsal is the creative mind behind the posts and also contributes to other great blogs such as Man Made DIY (as featured in my Top 5 Websites for Dads) and Wired Design.  I love his visual aesthetics and casual yet humorous and informative style.  I don’t know if we have similar interests both being originally from the Midwest and now East Coast transplants, but the sleek layout of his site enhanced with brilliant images always makes me smile and excited to come back for more.  Follow him through social media for the latest posts and entertaining updates and photos.  Also take some time to explore the site.  With categories for vintage items, decor, and typographyCMYBacon caters to the witty artist and those who appreciate unique design.

4. Day Zipping

Photo Credit: DayZipping.com

Photo Credit: DayZipping.com

We all get the itch every now and again to get out and do something different.  This doesn’t have to mean a week long vacation to some high-end resort.  In this economy a day trip may be just what you need.  If you are looking for great getaways right in your area, check out Day Zipping.  This website offers trip suggestions from real people like yourself.  From museums to state parks and the best kept secret spots, search your area to see what there is to do.  It will tell you the distance to the given location, pictures, maps of the area, cost, time, and reviews from visitors.  If you are taking a long distance vacation this year, you can use the site to scope out the local attractions around your destination.  Create an account to build your trip, see personal suggestions, and share your own day trips with others.  A great way to make sure you get the full experience, Day Zipping will help you plan and have a fun weekend.

5. Khan Academy

Photo Credit: khanacademy.org

Photo Credit: khanacademy.org

In between the fun and sun, don’t let your brain sit idle and turn to mush this summer.  It is the perfect time to gain some new knowledge or brush up on lessons from years gone by.  If you don’t have the opportunity to take official courses you can still keep active through the wonderful and free online resource Khan Academy.  They offer over 3,200 educational videos for your viewing convenience.  Most are relatively short, under 10 minutes in length, and presented in a very easy-to-grasp teaching style.  Work through entire subjects, or sample from various fields of study to round out your comprehension.  If your kids will be starting Algebra when they go back to school this fall, check out some of the clips to refresh your memory and be prepared when they come to you for help with their homework.  Never quite got the gist of Mortgage-Backed Securities? Browse through their vast collection of Finance lessons.  For just a few minutes a day, you can get back on track and ahead of the game.  It’s never too late to keep on learning.

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