Some people seemed to like my last post about research, and since I just got home from a trip out of town with the Diva and I'm way too tired to think of something interesting to write about, I thought I'd just share some of my favorite research links. Some of these links will be of most interest to writers, others are useful to everyone. If this post proves popular, I'll do another one down the road.
Look, for most people -- including writers -- Google is the most comprehensive and easiest to use search engine. There's really no reason to go looking for any others. But if you're interested in search engines in general, if you want to know how search engines target consumers or attract advertisers or manipulate results, or you want to know how to drive more search engine traffic to your blog or business site, Search Engine Watch is where you need to go. There's fun stuff there, too, like Google Easter Eggs. (An explanation of online Easter eggs can be found here.
On the other hand, if you're interested in the un-Googled, un-indexed parts of the web - the so-called "hidden web" or "deep web," this site - WHICH, PLEASE NOTE, IS NO LONGER UPDATED - is very helpful.
How many times have you been unable to access a certain website and asked yourself, "I wonder if this site's really unavailable or if it's just my computer?" Next time, go to Down For Everyone Or Just Me?
How many times have you been sitting in a theater with your bladder near to bursting but you didn't want to get up and go to the bathroom because you might miss something important? Prepare yourself with RunPee. ("Because movie theaters don't have pause buttons.")
Ever wish you could browse the web without Google and everybody else knowing your IP address, where you shop, what you read, where you're going for dinner that night? Well, that's why they made Anonymizer.
If you're in a strange city, or even a different part of town, and need to know where you can find WiFo, go to the WiFi HotSpot. If you're in NY, just go to New York CyberCafes.
Okay, so how about non-computer specific reference? These are just a handful of links I pulled out of my huge (like, unwieldy-ly huge) bookmark list of "reference tools you don't know you need until you need them":
A database of world embassies and consulates.
Fact Check - a nonpartisan (truly!) site that checks the veracity of politicians' statements, statistics, boasts, accusations, bullshit and hogwash.
From the US Postal Service, a zipcode database. You can find all cities in a given zip code, or all zip codes in a given city.
To search for cities in a county, counties in a city, all cities in a state or counties by zip code, go to the National Association of Counties' city search page.
To convert anything to anything else, go to http://www.onlineconversion.com/.
An annotated bibliography of resources dealing with identity theft.
A one-stop spot for information on obtaining vital records.
Okay, now for the writers.
For one thing, start reading Lynn Viehl's site. She is an endless font of imformation for cool toys and reference resources for writers.
Want to name a character, a town, a pub, a ship, an as-yet-uninvented weapon? Go to The Seventh Sanctum.
Need to just make up a name for something? Go here.
Stuff and Nonsense has a Regency name generator.
Need a synonym for licked or stroked or throbbed or moaned? The Erotic Thesaurus.
Writing a fantasy and need to do a fight scene? Go here.
How is the US Army organized? See here.
The best urban legends reference pages is Snopes.
Ok, that's all I have for now - I'm very sleepy. I'll do more links in a future post soon.