Eye on the Web, with Mary Westheimer

rear vision

"Perhaps you enjoyed these sites in a past KNLS, broadcast, thanks to our sponsor, sculptor Kevin Caron, and we hope you enjoy them again through this Eye on the Web Archive.
                    --Mary Westheimer

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I don't know much about classical music, but I do know what I like. And I definitely like the incredible site for the Arnold Shönberg Center. The amount of information included here is music to the ears of anyone who likes the ground-breaking, atonal work of this Austrian master. Yes, there is music, lots of music, and there is also a tremendous amount of background text about his life in both English and German. There's a biography; a geneaology; information about his paintings, drawings and writings; a bibliography; a discography and a photo album. There's information about the Shönberg Center itself, including events and exhibitions, an archive and library with reproductions of actual manuscripts, teaching materials, correspondence, and did I mention the shop where you can buy Shönberg memorabilia? After getting in tune with this site, you'll definitely know whether you like Shönberg.

L ook closer. I mean really close. Really, REALLY close. That's just what you can do on the Italian site Haltadefinizione. There you can zoom in on the masterpieces "The Last Supper," the "Vita de Cristo" and St. Gaudenzio's Basilica. Each masterpiece includes information about the work as well as the details of the technology used to create their version, but the magic here is in the viewing. The company, which specializes in art viewing, restoration and photography, enables you to enjoy these magnificent works as if you were there, in person, with a magnifying glass - if that were even possible. The site, which is in Italian and Japanese as well as English, is easy to use and understand as you zoom in on, pan and rotate the work. And that makes it easy to get up close and personal with this breathtaking art.

H ow Edison are you? That's the intriguing query posed at the site of the Edison Innovative Foundation. And the site is definitely innovative. Once you enter it, you can select from any one of a number of this incredible inventor's creations and download the design and patent application for it right to your own computer. But there is plenty beyond that, too. The site explains why Thomas Edison - one of the most prolific inventors of all time - matters today, and provides a timeline of his life, showing how his creativity related to the times in which he lived. Kids of all ages will also enjoy the educational programs, which help you build a homemade battery and a primitive movie camera, as well as offering experiments that reveal more about nuclear and alternative energy and the environment. With all the ways it helps you better understand this remarkable innovator, this site helps you become more Edison than you might have otherwise imagined.

L earning is fun. That's especially true at PurposeGames, where the members post educational quiz and trivia games that teach. If you think this sounds boring, you should know that more than 4,000 people don't agree - they've posted more than 2,220 games on the site, and frankly, it's hard to tell what's educational about some of them. Take "The Office - Scranton," which lets you locate the rooms, offices or desks in the TV show of the same name. Most of the games do test your brain cells in a more traditional way, though, such as naming 25 cities of Italy or famous people in history. If you're a member, you can also rate the games as well as play them, and the high scores are posted on the site. There are also other interactive niceties, such as being able to mark the games as favorites, making this a great place to play - and learn.


T op o' the mornin' to ya! That's how some people feel about breakfast, especially the folks who frequent Rashers and Eggs. A tribute to the use of blogs and digital cameras, this little site allows visitors and contributors alike to wax wistfully about Breakfasts They Have Enjoyed. Most of the entries feature first-meals-of-the-day in Ireland, which is only appropriate since, as the site informs us, the term "rashers and eggs" is sometimes used there to mean breakfast. Besides, the site is Dublin based, but there are entries from other countries, including Denmark, and you are welcome to contribute your own photos and breakfast reviews. You can also learn a little about rashers (which is pretty much different cuts of bacon) and check out a Flickr photo gallery of, well, breakfast centerfolds. As for me, after all this browsing, eating is at the top of my mind!

J iminy cricket! You're bound to find Jiminy and his other insect friends at the wonderful site The Songs of Insects. Created as a support for the book and audio recordings of the same name, this is the sort of site that builds interest in a product by offering substance. Here you can listen to fantastic recordings of 77 different crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers and katydids. Beautiful photos, and their scientific names and descriptions of their songs are also included. You can learn about how the photos were taken and the recordings captured, and even how to keep a singing insect as a pet. You can buy notecards with insect images as well as other bug books and some insect capture kits for kids. You can also buy the charmingly named "Insect Concertos" CD, or just buy a track for $1.25 each. Now that's worth chirping about!

I f you don't like it ... you don't have to settle silently! Speak out at ChangeThis. Founded in 2004, this blog-based site gives everyone - including you - the opportunity to, as they say, "use existing tools (like PDFs, blogs and the Web) to challenge the way ideas are created and spread." For instance, during a recent visit, I saw manifestos about the turnover dilemma in business, "taming the traps of traditional thinking," and bringing a brand to life. You can also submit your own essays and vote on proposed subjects, which, as you can see, aren't frivolous pursuits. Rather than rants about things that don't work, the emphasis here is on positive change, which is always refreshing, and empowering. You can subscribe to see what manifestos are being added, view by date, author, title, topic and popularity, or just browse. Who knows? Maybe it might change you for the better.

W orlds collide in the charming site Instructoart. Brought to you by Matt Vescovo, also known as the Master of the Obvious, this little world handles the Web a little more, well, creatively than most. The stories of how Matt first considered creating instructional drawings and his biography are fun, but the site really is about the images. You'll see pictoral how-tos on applying maternal saliva, air kissing and other equally important activities, which you can email to friends. Perhaps as fun is the site's navigation. Matt himself serves as the site map, leading you to the homepage, the gallery and shows, and maybe a surprise or two. When you're done reading the various instructions, you can close them easily by clicking a small X in the corner, a device that works as well as Matt's clever instructions. Serious concepts and sly subjects? On Instructoart, they make for a very pleasant collision!


S ay what? Not what meaning but what language is the question when visiting Langmaker. This fascinating site is a gathering place for people from around the world who don't just love language, they make it. Clearly, its visitors are speaking in their own special words, ones used by people who do not feel restricted to the thousands of existing languages, but who are inspired to create their own. You'll see new alphabets - my favorite is Alphabet 26, which does away with upper- and lowercase letters to create a simple and beautiful presentation - as well as new words in familiar characters, conlangs (or constructed languages), neologisms (new words or usages), neographies (new writing systems), resources, books and plenty of opportunities to jump into the conversation - probably in any language you wish.

L et's paint the town plaid! If it's possible, we'd learn how at Web Urbanist, a site that celebrates urban culture, oddities and alternative art. If you thought flash mobs were over, this site helps you locate those spontaneous quirky gatherings around the world. Like street art? You'll find photos and reports of clever two- and three-dimensional imagery in various cities. You'll also find street views captured through Google, videos, photos of old and new urban scenes and structures, guerilla marketing and, my personal favorite, guerilla gardening. The site is richer because of its collaborative interaction - you can post your own ideas, photos and goofs for other people to enjoy, no matter where they live.

I 'd walk under a ladder to get to OldSuperstitions.com. One of the satellite sites developed by those wild and crazy guys at bored.com, this destination is a wonderful collection of all the things my mother cautioned me about. There are 18 categories, including Acting, Hair, Halloween, Christmas, Baby, Card, New Home, Wedding, Death, New Year's as well as Good Superstitions and Bad ones. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a parsley superstition, yet the site lists a dozen! And did you know that it's a bad omen if a duck lays dark-colored eggs? You can find such fascinating superstitions by browsing through the categories themselves or searching by keyword. Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be any way to contribute new offerings, but then, maybe that'd be bad luck ....

W hat Ju-neau! You'll find an entire site devoted exclusively to Juneau, the capital city of Alaska, at Juneau.com. While most people think of the whole state of Alaska as off the beaten path, Juneau is pretty remote, especially for a capital city. Yet there's plenty to do, see and learn about, and Juneau.com is a great place to start, especially if you're thinking about visiting or moving there. Through the power of linking, you'll find information about transportation, shopping, attractions, history, food, upcoming events, current weather, entertainment, travel, Native arts and organizations, and companies of all types. There are photos and Web cams, and you can even order a travel planner or contact tour companies directly. There're also links to other Alaskan cities and state information. Yes, if there's anything you want to know about Juneau ... well, you know!


I surf the Internet, therefore I am. That may not seem very deep to some people, but it may be compelling for people who visit AskPhilosophers. When I popped by, nearly 1,600 questions had been asked, and more than 2,000 responses offered, which sounds like a heck of a deal to me, especially because it's all free. More than 30 philosophers lend their collective wisdom to help bridge the gap between trained philosophers and, well, the rest of us by allowing the general public to post questions and actually get answers. Queries are organized into more than 50 handy categories, and the questions and their responses are easy to browse. For all the silly sites, this one offers some real depth, in intriguing yet-easy-to-navigate ways. Yes, at this site, you definitely are.

B enjamin Franklin discovered electricity by flying a kite during a thunderstorm. Busted! That's the ruling from the Mythbusters, who are on the case. Lovers of the syndicated TV program Mythbusters are familiar with the crew that challenges conventional wisdom and old wives' tales, exposing them as fallacies or truths. Now anyone can enjoy the fruits of their investigations by visiting the site MythBusters Results. There's nothing flashy here, just the straightforward fall-out of their tests of time-honored tales, both confirmed and exposed. They're organized by the latest results as well as those of the past five seasons, and visitors are welcome to add their comments. Interestingly enough, you can't watch the episodes on the site, but you can read about them. Mythbusters results? Confirmed fun!

Quotation mark And now, here's all the top surfing news." That's just what you get when you visit Surfline, which bills itself as "the most comprehensive surf-related web site on the Internet." We're not talking Web surfing here, but the kind that involves lots of water and, if you're lucky, very big waves. And if anything can prepare you for this heart-pounding sport, it's this site. With its slick graphics and rich content, Surfline is the Big Kahuna of surf sites. There are forecasts, news, cams, maps and guides, products and videos. There are also special sections about travel, women in surfing, surfology, and, of course, a store, where you can purchase T-shirts, books, tapes, posters and more. Best of all for the serious surfer, though, are the live shots of the beaches and reports about more than 50 worldwide locations where you can catch the latest wave ... from the comfort of your armchair. Now that's news!

C hugga-chugga-chugga. An antique tractor has a special burble you'll never forget once you've heard it. Those who treasure that sound gladly gather at Yesterday's Tractor Co., also known as Antique Tractors Headquarters. Like the machines it celebrates, this site is more practical than pretty (although there is something irresistible about an old John Deere!). Focusing on tractors made before 1985, the site is a rich field of resources, with more than 90,000 photos, discussion forums, articles, links, tips, ads (including vintage versions), surveys, personal stories, an event calendar, a link exchange, tune-up guides, part sources, gifts and so much more. Anyone who has been to an antique tractor event knows how addictive this interest is, and this site helps enthusiasts keep chug, chug chugging along.


A laska is for kids. Well, Alaska is for everyone, but kids are especially welcome at Alaska Kids, which is put together by the lovely state of Alaska. Of course, that means that the site is first class - clean, sophisticated, easy to read and navigate. The site does allow you to tap into the full state site itself easily enough, with a search engine and links to intriguing sections like MyAlaska, but the focus here is on education, safety and nature for the younger set. The Education section offers information about the Alaska flag and other aspects of daily life. Safety zeroes in on all kinds of, well, safety information, and Nature focuses on fishing, the zoo and other outdoor pursuits. Everything has plenty of links, too, so kids can make themselves right at home.

E ven though you see it, I wouldn't believe it. At least I don't when visiting Grand Illusions, which is dedicated to all sorts of trickery. It has optical illusions, articles about illusions, an extensive toy collection with all sorts of charming and odd playthings, and a well-stocked toy shop with all sorts of illusions and gag items you can torture your friends with. The site has much more depth than first meets the eye - don't miss the additional pages in each section listed in the lefthand menubar. For instance, there are more than 30 illusions such as the downloadable staring dragon; 30 articles, including one about Henry Eng's amazing bottles; and nearly 70 items in the toy collection. So be sure not to just accept things at face value at this surprising site.

J oy has no boundaries. At least that's true when Clowns Without Borders gets involved. At first I thought this might be a spoof site, but it's most certainly for real, as you'll see when you scroll through the Expeditions section, the photo gallery, journals and news on the organization's site. As the group's name suggests, members travel far and wide to places including Guatemala, Egypt, Kosovo, Nepal and Sudan to bring fun and frivolity to kids of all ages. They are not alone, however, in bringing joy to the world. There are links to similar groups in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Sweden, reaching out to people who could use some diversion from their difficulties. There's an interesting Links page, which also features information about supporters, and of course you can sign up for their email newsletter. You have to wonder, though, if they've figured out how to send a balloon animal by email ....

T aking a sidetrip on a bridge has never been as much fun as visiting the Golden Gate Bridge Web site. With the Brooklyn Bridge as its East Coast bookend, the two spans are easily the most recognizable in the United States. So a site that share the big orange bridge's history, construction data, operational and traffic details makes a lot of sense. And that's just part of the site's Research section! There is also information about bikes and pedestrians, new and historic photos, tolls, current projects, studies, visitor guides and yes, a gift center where you can buy authentic cable and rivets as well as ornaments and other collectibles. I like the practicality of the site, too - there's plenty of information about ticket books, marathons and maintenance that will help commuters who use the bridge regularly. When it comes to knowing the Golden Gate Bridge, this site is almost as good as crossing there.

JULY 2007

T ED is totally terrific! The site is the offspring of the, well, terrific Monterey, California, conference of the same name that brings together "the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers" in technology, education and design. Although it was just launched this past April, the site brings the best of TED into our homes and already features more than 100 talks and performances, including dance and song. Each brings 18 minutes of insights from thought leaders including Jane Goodall, Al Gore, Stewart Brand, Jimmy Wales and many others. The site is as wonderful as its videos, allowing you to browse by speaker, event or subjects including creativity, the environment, sculpture, comedy and so much more. You can listen and watch, then download, link, bookmark and share these remarkable presentations. Hey, I have an idea! Visit TED today!

M y eyes hurt, my ears are ringing, and my stomach is queasy. So why don't I stop looking at The Wonderful World of Larry Carlson? With its more than 50 psychedelic flash movies, 30 MP3s and galleries of digital, video and Web art, I am mesmerized. I'm not, apparently, alone in my amazement. Carlson has been hailed as "The Salvador Dali of the Next Century" and his work has appeared in museums and galleries in the U.S., Brazil, Sweden, France and Germany. Mind-blowingly colorful, the work ranges from spooky to humorous to just plain hypnotic, but it's always, always fascinating, especially to those of us who lived through the 1960s or wished we had. If there'd been an Internet back then, this is almost certainly what it would have looked and sounded like. That being said, uh, let me return to my irresistible torture!

P op goes the corn! It certainly does when you visit Popcorn. Brought to you by U.S. popcorn processors, the site educates visitors about the fluffy treat, while keeping it fun with lots o' poppin'. Never pretending it was created to do anything but promote popcorn, the site has offerings that make your visit worthwhile. You'll find information about nutrition and recipes (Yum! Lime pickle popcorn!), a fat and calorie counter, information for food service professionals, an Encyclopedia Popcornica with facts about how popcorn pops, the history of popcorn, popcorn tips, industry facts and more. There's also a kids' area with popcorn drawings to color and worksheets geared to specific grade levels, and a teachers' section with lesson plans. If you want to know more about this tasty treat, pop on over to this enlightening site.

G et it together. That's just what you can do, in myriad ways, at JigZone.com. You can put together a lot of fun solving dozens of puzzles online, deciding whether you want to take it easy with a six-piece classic, or go all the way with a 247 triangular head-throbber. There are thousands of images to choose from, or you can upload your own image to break up into dozens of little pieces you can put back together again. You can compete with others on solving times, embed puzzles into your own sites and blogs, send a puzzle postcard, and even create your own puzzle area. All of these amazing options are free, and there's also a JigZone shop where you can buy puzzles with as many as 1,000 pieces, 3-D puzzles, puzzles in puzzles, and even puzzles that glow in the dark. This site has all the pieces you need for hours of fun.

JUNE 2007

I t's right in front of your eyes! Yes, that's the fun of Easter eggs, but this time they have nothing to do with holidays or chickens. Instead, we're talking about the concealed surprises in computer programs, movies, DVDs, music and TV that are called "Easter eggs." To get a gander of these clever gems, visit The Easter Egg Archive. You have to navigate through a lot of ads, but if you're curious about where to find buried images, text and even video games, it's worth it. Each egg listing gives detailed instructions on finding the egg, and visitors can contribute, comment, rate and email them to friends. Some of the listings even have photos of the infamous eggs, and you can look at the top 25 as rated by visitors and the latest ones added to the archive. Of course, you can have Easter egg info emailed to you, too. All in all, you can hop around in this jam-packed site for hours finding lots of hidden fun.

T here's something about barns. Although they are disappearing as rapidly as the family farms where you find them, there's a lot worth preserving about these often charming buildings. If you think so, too, you'll enjoy Ohio Barns. This site may have started to celebrate out-buildings in this famously midwestern U.S. state, but it's expanded to share photos of round barns in more than 30 states, Mail Pouch barns in 25 states and England, and barns in more than a dozen other categories, including Smile and Face, Artistic, Photogenic and Religious. But that's not all, as they say in the commercials. You can also see photos of old gas stations, water towers, castles, old mills and murals on the site. I particularly enjoyed poking around the Strange and Unusual Buildings section, which features one building shaped like a basket. Whether it's a basket or a barn, this site is really something!

I It wasn't so long ago we couldn't communicate across oceans. It seems amazing now, but it was just in 1901 that Guglielmo Marconi made the first wireless transmission across the wide seas. Today, his accomplishment is celebrated on an equally incredible technology, the Internet, on the site Marconi Calling. This beautiful site is technologically demanding, so it will work best for people with high-speed connections. But even at slower speeds, it might be worth the wait. You can learn about the company today and dip into its archive of equipment, photographs and documents that only a few had seen before this treasure trove was introduced online. There are three interactive exhibitions covering the most significant aspects of the development of wireless, an overview of Marconi's life, a helpful archive search, as well as 11 browseable categories, and additional links and reading, all of which help us communicate across time as well as space.

I I'm an animator! I wasn't until I discovered fodey.com, but now anyone can make animated squirrels, tomatoes, cats, flowers, owls and even a ninja or a wizard repeat the text you feed them. You can generate a newspaper headline with your own date, headline and copy; make a custom movie clapper board and a cigarette pack with your own text. The amazing part is that any of these can be downloaded for use on your own site, and it's all totally free! If you're wondering why anyone would give you free use of what are called generators, I can only speculate - since I could not find anything explaining who fodey is or why they're being so generous. I suspect they're financing the site with the use of Google AdWords, which can, uh, generate an amazing amount of revenue. If so, it's a more than fair exchange. They also kindly connect you to a blog where you can find other generators that can sing and dance while you pull the strings. And that's enough to animate anyone!

MAY 2007

L et's get geophysical. For Alaskan geophysics, the place to start is the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Its inspirational slogan of "Turning observations into information from the center of the earth - to the center of the sun" really says it all. Here you'll find facts about earthquakes, auroras, volcanoes, snow, ice, permafrost, tectonics and weather, along with maps, Web cams and tons of data. Even though all of these goodies are brought to you by experts, it's very easy to understand. I learned about floating ice, saw incredible photos of auroras and read predictions about upcoming ones, popped into the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and found a virtual goldmine of information at the Science Forum. Indeed, this site is the next best thing to being there!

O h, dear! Dear Computer, that is. I stumbled onto this delightful Dutch site and enjoyed its joyful appreciation of our computers and their creative capacities. This is a site where you learn simply by poking around, such as clicking on the images on the right side of the screen, which the site's servers use to automatically generate artistic images. There's also a lovely thank you note to the computer, as well as the Google Image Ripper, a really useful Google "hack," or shortcut, that lets you view full images instead of thumbnails (there's also a similar shortcut for viewing Flickr original images). Then there's a collection "illustrations of a never ending www-story," and a complementary window to Google's Story Creator for collaborating with the computer on a tiny tale. Best of all, perhaps, is the loving tone of this sweet little site.

I won't grow up! I don't wanna go to school!" Peter Pan had it right - there are times we all just want to be kids again. That's where Perpetual Kid comes in. The site is full of all the goofy stuff that made us laugh when we were young, with the added bonus of being able to buy it and act 10 years old again! Who wouldn't want to pick up a set of Pick Your Nose cups for their next party? Or get a real pen that looks like a crayon - now that'll liven up your next sales meeting! There are nearly two dozen categories of craziness, including Office Toys, Cool Car Crap, Offbeat Treats, Fun Fragrances, Stickers & Tattoos and Things That Shoot. So now that you're old enough not to poke your eye out with that thing, as our moms would say, your inner child might want to give this really fun site a whirl!

H ow do you do that? Whether you want to learn how to do something or share your own way to do things, the place to start is Instructables, which bills itself as the site of "step-by-step collaboration." You can browse through categories including Art, Craft, Food, Home, Life, Ride, Tech and - you didn't hear it here! - Not Liable, which tells you how to do things that you probably shouldn't be doing. Or you can search for help learning how to do almost anything. When I searched for the word "cook," only to discover that you can learn how to cook acorns, prepare and eat artichokes and even how to cook using your car. If you don't have instructions to share, you can join the site to add your comments, which are often as interesting as the instructions themselves. And that's something any Net surfer can do ... without instructions!

APRIL 2007

I an is right. I really only know one way to tie my shoelaces, and that took awhile to learn (at the age of five) because I'm lefthanded (my mom showed me in a mirror). It wasn't until I stumbled upon Ian's Shoelace Site that I discovered that there are at least 17 ways to tie my shoes! But Ian doesn't just display a photo of the finished knot. Each of the featured configurations shows color-coded drawings of the steps as well a photo of the result and technical details, including variations. Ian also covers issues such as why shoelaces slip and what to do about it, how to lace shoes, and the intricacies of shoelace lengths. There are shoelace tips (both the kind on the end of the laces and helpful hints), shoelace books, shoelace polls and, of course, shoelace links. Now if I just spend as much time learning these new knots as Ian did making this fantastic site, my mom will be really proud!

G ive me a sign. Well, when it's train signs and signals I want, I pull the cord to stop at The Signal Box. This British site focuses on the fascinating world of trains: their signals, history, companies, people and so much more. There are magazines, books, a monthly quiz and even a place to offer and buy train-related memorabilia, and check in with old friends. Most of the site is devoted to British trains, but the site does jump the track to cover signaling in more than 25 other countries, including Spain, the United States and even Nigeria. The photo gallery shares pictures of an amazing array of railroad architecture, and nearly every page in this extensive site goes into great detail about the places and people that have encouraged enthusiasts to love trains for decades. This site gets a definite "go"!

I t's all about the words. Well, at Drew's Script-O-Rama it's really all about the words in the scripts - the movie and TV scripts, that is. This site has been around for about forever, but it's definitely kept up with the times, with even the latest Oscar winners represented. You'll find versions of the words that have been painstakingly transcribed by fans as well as the actual scripts used in production of hundreds, perhaps thousands of films and shows. You have to be a little determined, as the site has two versions, the "jazzed up" new approach and the boring old version, and lots of different page designs as well as lots and lots of ads, but then, it's free and something has to cover the costs if viewers aren't. In poking around, there wasn't a movie I couldn't find, and there were lots I'd never even heard of. For movie and TV buffs, the best word for this site is terrific.

D o you want art with that? Those creative souls who are having fun at Ketchupart.com definitely do. And fun is the point here. Not that the ketchup artists don't strive to reach new pinnacles of creativity and beauty. Take "emo," a beautiful composition of strong red ketchup lines on a striking black plate. Or the amazingly realistic rendition of a historic figure in "Mao Tse Tchup." One of my favorites is "Wrong!," which shows a minty green toothpaste in the center of a white plate, flanked by a knife and fork on one side and a toothbrush on the other. The subjects and depictions are sometimes thought-provoking and often hilarious. If you log in, you can vote for your favorites and even upload some of your own, but even if you don't, you can see a random plate, the latest work, the top 10 plates and see all the work from one particular artist. Add a hot dog, and this art is good enough to eat!

MARCH 2007

A hoy! Avast ye, mateys, and seafarin' fans! If you love the sea, one site you won't want to miss is Paper Shipwright. The port of one David Hathaway, Paper Shipwright is a British publisher of paper models. You'll find more than 30 naval and civil ship, fort, building and lighthouse models for sale, and four more that you can download for free. Each model is shown on the site in multiple photographs, along with a brief history as well as the specifications of the actual structure and the model itself. These are historically accurate, detailed ships and structures that will provide hours of construction fun - or frustrating consternation, depending upon your skill level. If you're in the latter category, you'll appreciate the site's hints and tips, and the printing technology is quite interesting, as are the related links. If you like models or the sea, this site should float your boat - or you can make me walk the plank!

B ullwinkle lovers, unite! Despite their size and power, moose are, for some reason, cute. That's why someone could create a site like Mooseworld,, which celebrates all things moose. The site covers everything you might have ever thought about moose, and more. You can, of course, see photos; browse a list of places where moose can be seen (with links to helpful Web sites); check out the weather in various cities with "moose" in their names; learn about moose habitat, biology, diet and other moose facts; and sample moose art, photography and writing. Perhaps most intriguing is Mooseopia, a section that focuses on the concept of the moose as metaphor to make your life better and happier. My favorite part, though, is the photos of these sometimes gawky, sometimes vulnerable, often majestic beasts, which are hard not to love.

S ometimes it helps to use something new to learn something old. That's definitely the story at Primitive Ways. Eschewing flashy design for good, old-fashioned content, this site is a goldmine of time-tested ideas. There are more than 125 articles on practical ancient arts, organized into 10 categories, including Fire Making & Primitive Cooking, Primitive Tools & Projectiles, Musical Instruments & Beliefs, Early Technology & Traditional Skills, Useful Plants & Shelters, Hand-made Tools & Urban Resources, Events & Primitive Trips, Workshops & Classes, and a Gallery & Links section. You can learn how to steam-bend wood, how to brain-tan a buffalo hide and - my personal favorite, since I live in a desert - how to make an igloo. The articles are often comprehensive and detailed, with photos and drawings to help you bring the past to life.

M ay I have this dance? Well, maybe you should wait until I've had a chance to check out some more of the 400 instructional videos at Ballroom Dancers.com. From the waltz and foxtrot to the cha cha and salsa and 18 other dances, you can watch as professionals show you how it's done. The site is well organized and well conceived, giving you the technical specifications, featured steps - complete with overviews, men's and women's parts and a syllabus as well as the video - and appropriate music for each dance. You can play the songs right on your computer and even buy the music from the site, if you prefer. Once you're ready to watch a video, you set your preferences (Quicktime or Microsoft Media Player, speed, etc.) and the site remembers your choices from then on. Now put on your dancing shoes! It's time to tango!


D id you hear that?! That's exactly what you'll do at FindSounds, the Web's search engine for sound. You can search by three file formats, mono or stereo, different resolutions, sample and file sizes, or simply type in the name of something you want to hear. For example, searching for "door" brought back 200 door sounds, including "Star Trek open cargo door," "jail cell door" and "creaky door." Each selection lets you "see" the sound, read its specs, email the sound and, of course, hear it. If you'd just like to browse, there's a "library" of sound, too, with sixteen categories, including Animal, Office and Mayhem sounds. And if you'd like to find up to a million sounds online or manipulate them, you can buy FindSoundsPalette, a nifty looking program that can only broaden your sound horizons. Whether you're a sound pro or an audio amateur, you'll shout for joy about this site.

N ow, don't get excited. That would fly in the face of the goals of The Dull Men's Club. Unfortunately, this site that may be too much fun for its intended audience. I just couldn't help grinning about its gray color scheme and its slogan, "Celebrate the ordinary." It has an activity of the month - this month's is "Shoveling snow" - a comprehensive review of airport luggage carousels worldwide, "Groaner" jokes (perfect for men who prefer their humor light), Approved Web sites, Dull Men Practical Jokes, Safe Excitement (my personal favorite is "Watching Water Freeze"), Web Cam Traveling (which apparently has replaced Armchair Traveling), Cartoons, Dull Men mugs and other paraphernalia, and so much more (or is it less?). Front and center - where it can't sneak up on you - is the DMC blog, where dull fellows from around the world gather - calmly, of course.

I have an idea! But then, so do lots of other people. We all think we've come up with a million-dollar idea, something that will change the world and make us numbingly rich. OK, so it seldom really happens, but that hasn't stopped people from trying. Just check out Wacky Inventions. Featuring more than 175 ideas, this site isn't fancy, but it does give you a photo or two of the invention as well as additional information about the idea and, often, a link to their Web sites, where you can sometimes buy the product. After all, who wouldn't want a Mother's Third Arm, which can hold bottles, cups, toys crayons, pacifiers and more? A solar-powered scooter? Pants designed for sports fans, with built-in cushions in the seats? Yes, here you'll find lots of things you'd never think of and some you wished you had. Now have I told you about my idea ....

W ait until you see this! On second thought, don't wait another moment to see the eclectic offerings at EagerEyes.org. The site is the domain of one Robert Kosara, but he hardly hogs the stage. He does tell us more about his work and his strangely beautiful ZipScribble maps, but he also shares the work and ideas of other people in the world of information visualization, which takes what could be boring data and makes it beautiful and interesting. Indeed, in a world that is awash in data, information visualization can help make facts digestable. A tantalizing mix of art and research, the site helps you learn about this specialized world; dip into the work of others; find out about events and other sites, discover some of the tools of the trade; and even have fun, with such diversions as The Sheep Market. Yes, the field looks fascinating under the microscope of eagereyes.org


I f you don't like your life, why not get another? That's the premise of Second Life. Although it was launched just three years ago, this 3-D virtual world has more than 1.7 million residents from around the globe. The site was entirely built and owned by these folks, who do almost everything in this online world that we do in real life. You can create an avatar to represent you, buy and sell land and products, play games and puzzles, and wander through virtual casinos, dance clubs, shopping malls, space stations, vampire castles and movie theatres. One of the most fascinating parts of Second Life is that it has its own currency, the Linden dollar, with which all commerce is conducted. A visit to the economic statistics page will make your eyes pop out - more than 10 million Linden dollars were spent in the first 11 months of 2006 alone. So if you're looking for a whole new way of living, consider Second Life.

O nce upon a time ... there was a Web site devoted to fairytales called SurLaLuneFairytales.com, where you can be transported to other lands through this wonderful site. It includes more than 1,500 folk and fairytales from around the world, including stories from Russia, Portugal, Ireland, the Philippines and France. You can also visit the Sur La Lune Storytime area, which offers themes and stories to share with little ones at bedtime, discussion boards, more than 1,400 illustrations, information about fairytale authors, and, of course, a bookstore, which helps keep this fantastic site alive. I especially appreciate its 45 annotated fairytales, with their histories and connections to similar stories across cultures. As its detailed site map reveals, Sur La Lune is more than just a collection of stories. And with it available to us, we all can live happily ever after.

B irds, bears, fish and fowl. If there's any place you'll find the wildlife of Alaska, it'd be the official site of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. In addition to information about formalities such as licenses, regulations and public notices, there is lots to learn about wildlife viewing, commercial and sport fishing, trapping, hunting and shooting, and conservation planning. And then, of course, there are the critters, from bears and wolves, to salmon and walruses. There are publications on a number of subjects, as well as information about the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, teacher resources and specific state refuges, habitat areas and sanctuaries. One of my favorite sections is Becoming an Outdoors Woman - Alaska would certainly be the place to do that! Anyone who wants to learn about The United States' most northern state's natural bounty will want to start at this well-populated site.

I t's a dog's life. That's definitely true at Dog Island, where more than 2,500 healthy, happy dogs are enjoying a better life. Separated from the anxieties of urban stress, these dogs are living a natural and healthy existence, free from the travails of living among humans. You can volunteer to help on the island, keep up to date on what's being learned in this exciting new environment, take part in Dog Island events, and even send them your own dog, if you're willing to part with your loving companion. Of course, there is a Dog Island store, where you can buy the Dogology CD, mugs, shirts, and even an Empathy Leash, which has hooks on both ends so you can know just how your dog feels! If you're beginning to wonder just where Dog Island is, your virtual visit is as far as you'll get. Yes, this delightful site is a hoax, albeit one that is almost believable. After all, who wouldn't like a free-wheeling life on a desert isle? Boof! Sign me up!

Thanks for visiting, and come back next month for more fun from Eye on the Web.

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