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The Year in Review: The Best Websites You've Never Visited (and some you have)

2006 has seen many fantastic developments in the realm of Web 2.0.  Looking back over the year, the growth of sites like YouTube, digg, Facebook, and Wikipedia immediately come to mind.  But 2006 has also brought us many other great websites that, while they are less well-known, are no less fun or interesting.  Here is a round up of some of my favorite off-the-beaten path websites from 2006, which I love for their randomness, creativity, and all-around fun factor.

Spreadshirt.com. This truly is the best place to buy t-shirts online.  This site gives you the power to design your own t-shirt, and provides a library of styles, text  fonts, and images for you to use in your creation.  You can also browse the creations of other t-shirt lovers, or import your own image to the system to use.  This site is definitely fun– one-of-a-kind t-shirts make great gifts! 

The Daily Puppy . Who can resist a face like this?   Well I certainly can't.  I love this site purely because of the cuteness factor.  It's loaded with pictures of adorable puppies, with a different dog featured every day on the homepage. Dogster is also worth browsing if you love dogs.  That site has more information about breeds, dog behavior, and adoption of pets, but for its aesthetic value, the Daily Puppy is tough to beat.  Thanks to Steve for telling me about this one last week.

The Baby Name Voyager.  I have blogged about this one before.   This site offers a fully interactive graphing tool that displays trends in baby names.  A great source of useless information, this site is fun to play around on and is provides a good example of online graphing capabilities.

Horny Manatee.  The only way I can describe this site is to say that it is completely ridiculous.  A project from Conan O'Brien and NBC, this site came about after Conan suggested that Florida State University take on the Horny Manatee as its new official athletic mascot.  The site has a few videos from Conan's show about the creation of the site, opportunities to buy Save the Manatee T-shirts ($5 from every purchase goes to the Save the Manatee Club), and allows Horny Manatee fans (yes, the site has fans) to send in their own manatee artwork.  Very silly and for a good cause (if you like manatees).

The Onion.   "America's Finest News Source" since 1996, this  site is a parody on….well….everything.   This is definitely one of the Web's greatest sources of nonsense, and it makes fun of everything (and everyone) in the news. 

Earth Day Networks' Ecological Footprint Quiz.  "Ever wondered how much 'nature' your lifestyle requires? You're about to find out."  This little gadget asks you a few questions about your lifestyle and calculates the size of your ecological footprint. 

LowPost.netStrikeTwo.net, and FairCatch.net.  These sites are dangerously addictive for  NBA/MLB/NFL fans.  The two sites provide summaries of the most popular sports blog headlines every day.   You can also search by team, player, or topic to find information.  You can see trend information for topics, view the most popular posts of the day, view scores, get RSS feeds, read blogs…in fact, it might just be easier to say that I can't think of anything you can't do on these sites. 

 blender.gifWill It Blend?  Ever wonder what would happen if you put a cell phone in a blender?  How about a hockey puck ?  Or perhaps a bottled beverage ?  Well, maybe this site can help quell your curiosity.  Actually an advertising site for BlendTec blenders, WillItBlend.com displays a plethora of videos featuring a pseudo-lab technician blending extremely odd items in an effort to test their super-powerful Total Blender.  Um, don't try this at home.  

Taquitos.net .  Are you a snack addict?  Then you need to visit this site.  A gallery of information and reviews about all things snacking, this site will give you ideas for new snacks to try and which ones to…well…not try.  You can also go snack shopping on this site.  Who doesn't need Herr's potato chips by the case or stock in Krispy Kreme?  Check it out.

These last two sites aren't new this year, but I can't help but mention them. 

AllofMP3.  This Russian music download site has super-cheap MP3 downloads…I'm talking whole albums for just $2.  It's amazing, but I don't expect it to around much lon
ger, due to perceived legality issues and property rights violations.  But, as of right now, it's legal and is a great source for inexpensive digital music.

Internet Movie Database.  This site is a movie-lover's heaven.  Not only does it offer tons of information about movies, but it also has a wide library of reviews and comments about all sorts of films.  Powerful search tools help you find what you're looking for quickly.  My favorite part about this site, though, are the "trivia" and "goofs" categories.  Everyone should know things like that the movie Animals House "was set to be filmed at the University of Missouri until the president of the school read the script and refused permission."  This is a great site where I could easily waste several hours browsing the content.

I would also like to thank the year 2006 for bringing us movie previews on Netflix and a redesigned and revamped CNET (complete with product review videos).  It's been a great year for the Internet, and I expect next year to bring more cyber-ridiculousness our way. 

This post is part of a series of "Reviews and Predictions" for ProBlogger.  Please visit the site and check out the rest of the contest entries!