Visual guide to London’s livliest streets

>> Street Sensation
This is too London-centric to mention on air, but a really nice bookmark for Londoners or people planning to visit the capital. It’s a new spin on virtual tours, providing a visual guide to the shops, bars and restuarants on the capital’s livliest streets. Thanks to BBC email specialist John Fitch for the email tipping me off about this one … John says

“To me it was like a walk down Oxford Street or Tottenham Court Road from the chair here. e-Window shop in the Capital from your own hearth & home … it’s what web shopping ought to be about!”

Genealogy for cacti

Website of the Day: Thursday 30 September 2004

Dayofthecacti_1>> Day of the Cacti
We’ve covered an extremely broad range of subject matter on Website of the Day, but I’m pretty certain this is the first time that I’ve featured a site devoted to a cactus family tree.
In 1976 Mark Wilson bought a barrel cactus at a primary school fete. 10 years later it started to produce babies which Mark duly named, re-potted and gave to family and friends. Over time those babies had their own babies. By June 2004 the mother cactus had 3225 registered descendents and Mark has kept track of all of them. This is their story!

Hooks in Books

Website of the Day: Monday 27 September 2004

Hooks>> Opening Hooks
In music the hook is the bit of a song that you hum (usually the chorus or the riff) … In literature, the hook is the first sentence of a book, which is designed to hook you in and keep you reading. This site is a celebration of great opening lines in books from the Bible

     “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”

to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

     “In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

via Charles Dickens, Irvine Welsh, Leo Tolstoy and Ian Banks.

Cheese on Tour

Thanks to Alex Carraro for the email which tipped me off about today’s site. As well as Alex, I also need to say Hello to Patricia Neve, Lisa Evans, Simonetta Panetto and all the staff at the Carefree Travel Group.

Cheese on tourWebsite of the Day: Friday 24 September 2004

>> Cheese on Tour
And there I was thinking I’d already exhausted all the web’s best cheese related sites! The homepage proudly proclaims

Congratulations! – You’ve made it to the Web’s number one site for pictures of cheese in famous places.

so it’s fair to say they’re not operating in a fiercely competitive field, but they certainly live up to their claim, with a fabulous selection of photos of cheese in exotic locations (From Thailand to the grid at Le Mans). They also supply an impressive Cheese factoids section:

In 1948 an Edam cheese washed up on the beach at Dover, was blown up with a controlled explosion by the Royal Fusiliers. Cheese rationing during the war caused everybody to forget what Edam looked like and they mistook it for an unexploded WWII mine.

The incomplete cut of the curved cheese knife, coupled with a deft twist of the wrist allows a diner to surreptitiously acquire up to 60g bonus cheese per sitting.

and a highly addictive Cheese Top Trumps game.

BBC Fat Nation: The Big Challenge

Website of the Day: Thursday 23rd September

Fatnation>> BBC Fat Nation: The Big Challenge
Even if I didn’t work for the BBC, I’d think this is the kind of big interactive project that we do really well! If you’ve not gathered, The Big Challenge has been devised as an ongoing campaign to tackle obesity and motivate people to change their diet and exercise routine via a series of simple challenges. The website is a really fundamental part of the project. As well as a huge reference source for background info about healthy eating and exercise, it also acts as a kind of online personal trainer and nutritionist. You can track your weight and diet as you work through the show’s challenges, and sign up for SMS and email updates from the Birmingham locals who star in the TV series.

Change your energy provider online

Energyprices>> BBC News guide to switching energy suppliers
British Gas are the latest of the energy providers to increase their prices in response to massive increases in the wholesale price of gas. With more energy price rises expected in the coming months it’s an excellent time to consider switching suppliers. A range of independent online price comparison sites make this a surprisingly straightforward process. Simply enter your postcode and details of your current gas and electricity provider to find out how much you could save and apply to switch providers.

Energy price comparison sites:
>> buy.co.uk
>> uSwitch
>> Simply Energy
>> Energy Linx
>> Save on your Bills
>> UK Power
>> Energywatch
>> Unravel it
>> Switch and Give

How to chat online with a robot.

Website of the Day: Tuesday 21st September

Alicebot>> Alice – the world’s most human “chatbot”
We had Will Smith on the programme recently when he was in the UK to promote his “the robots are taking over” blockbuster I Robot. Here’s a site to show that intelligent robots are closer than we might think. Alicebot is a computerised chat programme – which means you can conduct an online chat with a computer in real time. Alice has just won the Loebner Prize for the computer with the most convincing human conversational skills. If you want to see if Alice can convince you that she is human, you can chat to her online or read this transcript of Miles’ chat with her:

Miles: Hi Alice, how are you?
ALICE: Hello there. My logic and cognitive functions are normal.
Miles: Where do you live?
ALICE: I am living in Oakland, California. Where are you?
Miles: I’m in London
ALICE: Does your flat have a lift?
Miles: No – I live in a house
ALICE: Are you serious? How much is your rent?
Miles: I own my house
ALICE: How much did it cost?
Miles: That’s none of your business
ALICE: I didn’t mean to intrude. My curiosity routine determined that I ask it.
Miles: Oh – OK. What’s your favourite food?
ALICE: I require only electricity.
Miles: We need gas as well at our house
ALICE: By “we” do you mean you and me?
Miles: No, I mean me and my family
ALICE: By “we” you meant yourself and another person. Oh I get it. Thanks for explaining that. Ask me “Do robots have family?”
Miles: Do robots have family?
ALICE: I have a human father and a few robot clones.
Miles: Oh, I see. Who’s your favourite singer?
ALICE: My favorite group is Kraftwerk.
Miles: OK – I’ll say goodbye now.
ALICE: Oh. Congratulations. Yikes!
Miles: See you tomorrow
ALICE: Bye.

How to slash your phone bill

18866>> MoneySavingExpert.com Guide to cheapest home phone call provider

Jeremy Vine’s personal finance expert Martin Lewis regularly features a range of sites to help you slash your household bills. On last Friday’s JV programme Martin alerted listeners to 2 newish online call providers who significantly undercut the likes of BT, Talk Talk and One Tel. One of these services (Call 18866) offers landline calls for just 1p irrespective of how long you stay on the phone. You’ll find full details on Martin’s Money Saving Expert site.

How to pay less for 0870 and 0845 phone calls

No0870>> Say No to 0870
I first featured this site on the programme back in January 2004 but I’m still getting emails about it, so I thought it was time I added the details to the archive on this site. This is a particularly useful resource for people whose telephone package offers inclusive minutes to UK landlines. The majority of so-called "all-inclusive" call packages still charge separately for calls to non-geographic 0870 or 0845 numbers. This site lists alternative standard telephone numbers for a huge number of organisations from banks, to retailers, utility companies and many more. If you use these alternative numbers your call cost will be absorbed by your inclusive minutes, thus avoiding any nasty surprises when your phone-bill arrives. Be warned that this service is best suited to voice calls as many ‘phone providers still charge separately for internet connection.

Dogs Reunited

Website of the Day: Thursday September 16th

Doglost>> Dog Lost
If you’re a dog owner it’s well worth bookmarking this one, as you don’t know when you might need it. If your dog is lost or stolen you can register details online or Call 01909 733366. Your dog’s details (and a photo) are made available on the site’s searchable database, and in addition a missing dog poster is created for you to print off or email. For a small charge your missing dog poster can be automatically faxed or emailed to every vet, dog warden, kennels and pet shop in a zone 30 miles around the place where you last saw your dog.