A movement is growing to encourage buying the things we need locally, cutting out the high shipping and marketing costs associated with products that travel long distances to get to us. A good number of Web sites have sprung up to help us do just that–buy locally–and many include reviews of local merchents. Some of these sites are accessible on mobile devices, and we suggest a few more that seem made for mobile.
Find Local Stuff
Yelp: Yelp has emerged as the leading destination for determining whether the launderette, restaurant, therapist, or manicurist across town or around the corner is worth a visit. Remember that virtually every business gets at least a couple of bad reviews, so factor that in, and try to gauge the general vibe of the reviews.
OpenTable: OpenTable is simply the biggest and best-connected site for making dining reservations online. It has wisely added a mobile app so that you can easily select and make reservations while you’re away from home.
Chowhound: My foodie friends say this is the place to go to dig up great restaurants, recipes, cooking and dining stories and blogs, and good discussions about food and drink. Today’s featured recipe: Smoked Duck and Cherry Pressed Sandwich. I think I just drooled on my desk.
Angie’s List: Another great locally focused “wisdom of the crowd” site. How in the world do you know if this contractor or that auto shop is reputable and competent? Angie’s List at least gives you some solid clues, and as anybody who’s had work done on a house or car knows, some serious money is on the line. A small monthly membership fee applies.
StubHub: StubHub is the alternative to TicketMaster for sports, concerts, and theater tickets. Stubhub, in effect, took ticket-scalping off the street and put it on the Internet by providing a secure marketplace for fan-to-fan ticket sales. In fact, it’s better than Ticketmaster, because it doesn’t charge ridiculous fees, and you still have a shot at buying tickets for events that are officially “sold out.”
Great Sites for Your Mobile
NextBus: Nextbus is a site for mobile devices that tells you exactly when your bus or train will arrive. It’s powered by a system of GPS devices planted on the buses and trains themselves. It can even plot their comings and goings on a Google map. No more standing at the bus stop cursing.
Zeer: Zeer (beta) effectively utilizes input from readers to deliver ratings and the nutritional low-down on all sorts of foods. It’s a natural as a mobile application–you can load it up on your cell phone and shop smarter at the supermarket.
New York Times: The Old Gray Lady looks fetching on the small screen. “All the news that’s fit to print” in the palm of your hand.
Google News: The simplicity of Google News’ design makes it the fastest and easiest way I’ve seen to organize and read news on a cell or smart phone.
Google Maps: Compared with other mapping sites, I find Google Maps to be simpler, more versatile, and easier to use on mobile devices. When you’re moving around, on foot or on wheels, such attributes become very important.
MizPee: This one’s kinda funny, but undeniably useful. You’re in an unfamiliar city, and you need to find a bathroom. MizPee finds one and plots it on a map for you.
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