Exploring The Web: 5 Sites To Visit Part III

Posted on Multiply Feb. 15, 2009, 1:47 AM.

It has been a long time since I posted the second part of this series. 🙂

It is true that the Internet is used not only for academics, but also for fun. Then, there is now the notion of cloud computing, wherein (put simply) all activities are done “in the cloud,” meaning data is processed (and stored) on Internet servers. This is already evident, ranging from e-bay purchases to Google Docs and (soon to come) MS SharePoint.

Anyway, the introduction has no deep connection to the topic the following five sites are categorized (but still there is still a connection).

Oh yeah, the theme today is what about I call “Utility Sites”.

Judge for yourselves why I call them as such (and suggest you bookmark the following sites, or this blog entry itself.)

(Click on the images to enlarge them.)

1. ASCII Art Generator
Want to convert your picture into an ASCII art? Well, this is the site for you. It makes you upload an image you want to convert to ASCII art. Just tweak the sharpness setting for your personal preference (although 5, the default, is good enough).

As a sample:

Original Image (click to enlarge):

Generated Text, Sharpness
8 (Well, ASCII are characters, so the generated “image” is really a text) (click to enlarge):

You may wonder what is the practical use of the site. For impressing friends, maybe? I really don’t know, but then there are people wanting such things, as evidenced by this ubuntuforums thread (in which I got the link). Also, there are other sites doing the same thing, but then I find this one adequate (and flexible) enough for the average user.

2. File2HD
Wanna download the video you ever wanted from streaming sites like YouTube? Or the song you want from Imeem? Then, this is the site for you. Just paste the link in the URL box, type the captcha, check the “I have read and agree to the Terms of Service” (who reads them, anyway? (I know people who read them, so don’t flame me)), and click the Get Files button. The site will then output links (based on your filter), in which you can click to download (or right-cick -> save as to download).

FYI, I found the site while searching for a way on how to download songs from Imeem. Experiment on different sites, but then I suggest that do not try this on Esnips (do no.3 instead).

You may also see my guides here and here.

3. eSnips Link Generator v4
As I said in no.2, do this for esnips files. (Try to download from esnips using no.2, and you’ll know what I mean.) However, be careful, as you are redirected to an anonymous server. So far, I had no problems with it, and I can attest (as far as I know; this is a disclaimer) that it does not install malware to your PC.

Ironically, the original thread wherein I found the site is posted in esnips forums.

4. Speedtest.net
This site tests the speed of your internet connection to a server of your choice, meaning that you can test (via the site) how fast your connection is with Panama’s server, for example.

The site is mostly flash-based, so for those using Firefox with NoScript enabled should add the site to their temporary (or permanent) exceptions list.

Of course your mileage may vary. Internet connection speeds have many factors involved, so do not depend too much on it. It does give a good approximation of the speed of your connection to the server you choose though. Also, you have the opportunity of comparing and sharing your results to other people in the world, and the chance to rate your ISP based on the result(s) of the test(s).

5. VirusTotal
Let us just say you got an e-mail attachment, or a suspicious file. Of course, you are not going to open or execute it. But then you don’t have any anti-malware program installed. What would you do?

VirusTotal comes to the rescue.

VirusTotal is what its name suggests: it scans an uploaded file (of course, you upload the file) and says if it is infected or not (essentially, a virus or not). What separates this from other online scanning sites is that it obviously scans only what you have uploaded by using 38 antivirus engines (based on their list here as of writing). Of course, we all know that different antivirus engines scan the same file in somewhat a different way, and since there is really no perfect antivirus scanner, there may be false positives and false negatives. That’s where the beauty of VirusTotal comes: by presenting you the results of the 38 virus engines, you can decide whether the file is really dangerous or not (it just requires the use of common sense).

Oh yeah, this site is also endorsed by PCWorld Magazine.

So there you have it: five Utility Sites you can use and have fun with everyday (especially the ASCII Art Generator). If you know other such sites, feel free to write it in the comments section.


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