Many Internet sites know exactly where you've been, thanks to electronic "cookies" that track your every click. The site www.MValue.com not only lets you control which companies know where you're going, it forwards offers from advertisers who are willing to pay good money to track your travels through the Web. It can even broker that information (anonymously, of course) should you decide to sell. Don't give up the day job -- the payoff is only 50 cents an hour -- but getting paid for something you're already doing can't be a bad thing. Guess that's the way the cookie crumbles.
The Geek Outdoors
"A cacophony of croaking, knocking, drumming, and shrill notes fills the air." Are you sweating in your apartment, cringing at the construction below? Or hiking Little Pond Loop in the Catskills, passing a beaver dam as you traverse a swollen brook? If you chose the latter, hike your browser over to gorp (www.gorp.com/gorp/location/ny/ru_hudva.htm), an outdoor-adventure site that features an extensive section on Hudson Valley activities from the city all the way up to Albany. Whether you're interested in hiking, biking, boating, or merely outdoor mansion envy, gorp (Great Outdoor Recreation Pages) has everything you need to escape Gotham's grime. Or you could just turn up the air conditioner and scroll through the pictures.
Like answering machines, online classifieds are one of those beautifully intuitive inventions that make you wonder how anything ever got done without them. Take shopping for a used car: Rather than searching for your '67 Mustang by collecting all the giveaway papers you can carry, you can simply sign on and search through a nation's worth of Fords from your living room. Throw in search engines that let you comparison-shop for insurance and finance rates, and you might even save enough for parking.
Autoweb.com aims to "put you in control of the car-buying process" and offers a trunkload of useful information, as well as a troubleshooting area for when something goes wrong. Helpfully, the guide is divided into symptom categories, like "braking problems" and "engine problems" as well as the more intuitive "smell," "hear," "see," and "feel."
Stoneage.com, in true Internet fashion, settles for nothing less than "evolving your car-buying experience" with more than 600,000 classifieds from newspapers and Websites around the country. Less evolved is the registration process users have to complete before seeing sellers' information.
Cars.com includes news and reviews as well as classifieds, many of them from dealers. The site's search engine lets customers get hyperspecific, selecting everything from make, model, and year to distance from your Zip Code you're willing to travel.
Edmunds.com offers reviews, classifieds, and an online version of the Edmunds buyer's guide series for sale at newsstands. Many of its listings are culled from other sites, but Edmunds.com adds its own spin: a feature that calculates the average price and mileage for every car that fits your specs. It even comes up with a suggested retail price to help sniff out scams early on.