Even as the Web has become more entertaining--and certainly better looking--over the past 15 years, it has also become much more useful and practical, as the 100 sites in this feature will demonstrate.
I've organized the sites in the list by the type of task they help you with. It is not a ranking; in each category I recommend sites that specialize in a different area than the others. I've also mixed in a smattering of sites that you might not use every day, but that provide ready answers to specific questions like "How can I learn to rumba?" or "Who should I vote for?" or "How do I make a wallet out of duct tape?"
Most Useful Web Sites by Category
9 Sites to Help You Survive the Recession A growing number of good Web sites, like Prosper and Bankrate, are popping up, offering you cool tools to help you manage and conserve your money. With an economy like ours, you need all the help you can get.
8 Great How-to Web Sites Because of sites like Yahoo Answers and Instructables, the Web has become the first stop for people trying to fix something, build something, or learn a new skill.
7 Sites for Buying, Selling and Renting Almost Anything The Web is a giant meeting place for buyers and sellers of all kinds; sites like CarsDirect and Greenzer offer helpful new tools to help the deals along.
Find and Watch TV and Movies Online Web video is everywhere online these days -- and not just on YouTube. We've picked the sites that best aggregate, organize or host great-looking online video of all kinds.
Healthy and Happy: 9 Sites for Fitness and Travel FitDay and sites like it can help you find and follow a healthy routine. Sites like Kayak can help you book a trip and get out of town when its time for a change of scenery.
Sites That Find People and Their 'Sensitive' Information We've selected the best people-finder sites out there, as well as select sites (like Glassdoor and CriminalSearches) for finding sensitive (public) information about them.
These Sites Let You Store, Share, Create and Publish Content Sites like Drop.io and eSnips give you a nuetral space to store, access and share your documents. Sites like Photosynth help you create and publish your own content.
5 Sites That Will Boost Your Political Awareness Politics has become almost synonymous with spin and distortion of the truth. Sites like Politifact and OpenSecrets.org are helping voters keep tabs on government.
10 Great Sites for Local Content and Mobile Devices Sites that help you access your world locally--like Yelp and OpenTable--are big, and they're especially helpful when you can surf them on mobile devices like the iPhone.
7 Great Sites About Music and Literature Life's a lot better with good music and books. If you're in need of some fine literature or some rocking new tunes, sites like Pandora and Powell's Books will keep you on a steady diet of both.
7 News Sites That Keep You Dialed In Every Day Mixx gives you better control than Digg over the news you see at the site every day. Sites like Slate dish their own selection in a way that gets you up to date quickly.
15 Specialty Sites You Should Know About Of course the Web doesn't fall into neat categories, so we picked 15 great sites, like TeensReadToo.com and Archive.org, which do a specific thing and do it very well.