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5 webtools to improve your internet life


fav4.png aims to provide a minimalist homepage that allows quick access to frequently used sites. The site lets you choose four icons that are displayed in the middle of the page from a list of 96 different websites. They also allow for an option to add a search menu as well.

The site requires no account or login, but remembers your information via cookies in your web browser. This means that your settings are tied to both your computer and the web browser you are using. You'll have to reconfigure the site if you want it to look the same on multiple machines.

The team is currently working on the means to scale the site so that users can have more than four icons and are adding other features as well. If you're looking for a new start page on your browser, this is certainly one to look into. is a simple website with a single purpose. It tells you whether a website is down or if you are the only one having trouble getting to a site. This is perfect if you are trying to diagnose connection issues with your internet service.

Just type in the address and hit return. If their servers can load the site, it tells you that the site is up and it is just you who is having problems. If they can't access the server, they tell you that it's not just you and the site appears to be down.

Readability (

Readability is a small bookmarklet which is designed to make a page more readable. It temporarily reformats a webpage, eliminating any ads, links, comments or other things that might distract from the article at hand.

There are several choices for formatting, which are set up when the bookmarlet is made. You choose the font style, font size and margin size, then simply drag the bookmarklet to your bookmark bar. The bottom of the page shows a preview of how the article will look after the formatting.

Readability doesn't work on every site, but usually warns you if it is unable to reformat the site correctly.

QuietTube (

Another bookmarklet, quiettube bills itself as "video, without distraction". Like Readability, this bookmarklet gets rid of all the distractions, such as ads, comments, links, related videos and other things that usually clutter up the video sites.

QuietTube is particularly useful for academic or presentation settings, where a presenter might want to show a YouTube video, but not the comments or related videos that would appear on the same page.

Instapaper (

Instapaper is a tool for saving articles that you don't have time to read right now, but would like to read later. Installed as a bookmarklet in your browser, you can save articles for later reading, either on your computer, iPhone, Kindle or other means of access.

Instapaper has a unique signup process, requiring only an email address (optional password). Instapaper offers a link back to the original article, if you want to read it there, but also offers a link to just the text of the article on a clean page, like Readability, without the custom options.

Instapaper and Readability can be used in conjunction with each other to offer a clean and seamless way to store articles for reading later and a clutter free environment for consuming them.


  • Martha Lindberg 5 years ago

    This is the coolest column! I'm so glad that you decided to write this. What a lot of useful booklets in this article! Where do you work in Mankato?

    Mankato Frugal Living Examiner

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