hours of fun

The internet can be the portal to lots of things apart from cheap flights, free email and news sites. Here are some of my favourite ways to while away half an hour.

Wikipedia is a multilingual Web-based free-content encyclopedia. It is written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing most articles to be changed by anyone with access to a web browser and an Internet connection. The project began on January 15, 2001,. Wikipedia has more than 3,700,000 articles in many languages, including more than 1,000,000 in the English-language version. Editors are required to uphold a policy of “neutral point of view” under which notable perspectives are summarized without an attempt to determine an objective truth.

Wander aimlessly through this virtual art gallery like you would a real one, or search for titles or artists.

Longplayer is a 1,000 year long piece of music which started to play on the 1st January 2000 and will continue to play, without repetition, until the 31st December 2999, when it will come back to the point at which it began – and begin again. In its present and original incarnation, as a computer program, it’s been playing since it began in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London E14.

It’s also playing in the planetarium at the Bibliotheca Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt, the Powerhouse, Brisbane, Australia and in Rufford Park, near Nottingham, England. Plans are in an advanced stage for other listening posts around the world.

Google’s language tools is a great slow-afternoon-at-work site, where you can have hours of fun translating complex phrases or sentences from English to German, then to French and back to English again to see exactly how much can be lost in translation. Hilarious. For those wishing to improve your language skills, you can use Google in your mother tongue. Choose Lithuanian, Yiddish, Esperanto, Klingon or Elmer Fudd (my personal favourite).

Read previously unpublished poems, short stories and even novels, and rate the writers’ work. Literary fiction, scifi, spirituality, humour and even westerns are included in the genres up for grabs.

Get into the podcast age and surf what’s available to download and listen to later on your MP3 player. If you want to start with something familiar, try the national radio station podcast sites such as www.abc.net.au/services/podcasting/ for Late Night Live or www.bbc.co.uk/radio/downloadtrial/#programmes for The Archers or I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue!

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