Learn By Viewing

You see a cool idea that's wildly successful and think to yourself, "Man, I wish I'd thought of that!" Consider YouTube, the world's premiere video sharing site. Three former PayPal employees created the site in 2005 and, a mere 18 months later, were bought out by Google for 1.65 billion dollars! But this post isn't about that mind-boggling payday; it's about the service they created, and why it can be both useful and entertaining for you every day.

From its humble beginnings, YouTube has developed into a huge repository for videos of every stripe. The site is hugely entertaining. Love those old black-and-white commercials for cigarettes and Brylcream? They're there. Want to watch excerpts (sometimes whole episodes) of your favorite old sitcoms and TV dramas? They're there. Interested in reliving some of history's most significant moments, like the D-Day invasion, the moon landing, and 9/11? All there.

Love music? Even though YouTube is a video site, you can listen to nearly any song by any artist - if no video was available, you'll see a still image instead, or perhaps a slideshow of images running behind the song. Many already-created playlists are available - want to listen to hours of continuous Big Band music? No problem.

But YouTube is also a tremendous resource for learning and problem-solving in your everyday life. Need to troubleshoot why your fridge ice maker doesn't work any more? How to fix a sticking door? Replace the battery in your Chrysler Sebring? Crochet a granny square? Make perfect onion rings? Learn trick shots on the pool table? Replace that moldy caulk around your bathtub? Learn basic genealogy?

You name it. YouTube will teach you about it.

If you are interested in more academic subjects, YouTube also has you covered. Want to learn more about Chaucer? About our own Milky Way Galaxy? How about learning Latin, or some other new language (Portuguese, anyone)? Take a crash course on medival history? Learn about the geology of the Grand Canyon? Learn a new language? Tour the Louvre Museum, or learn about the great art works throughout history? YouTube will keep you busy being a life-long learner for the rest of your life.

There may be better sites for specific subjects, but YouTube simply can't be beat for it's sheer size, scope, and variety. Yes, you'll see a fair number of ads, but if you don't mind forking over $9.99 a month, you will get ad-free access to the entire YouTube library, as well as some other perks.

YouTube access is built into nearly every phone, tablet, and SmartTV out there, so there's no excuse for not watching! And you can use your Chromecast or Roku device ($35 and $50 at Wal-Mart, respectively) to watch YouTube more comfortably on your TV screen.

Who needs cable or satellite with YouTube around!

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