The Ultimate Timewaster's Guide to the Internet

ONCNG Oncology, February 2008, Volume 9, Issue 2

We know you are busy. But even doctors find themselves with a little time to kill every now and then. When this happens, we suppose you could do something like read a book or talk with a friend or family member, but who wants to do that?

We know you’re busy. But even doctors find themselves with a little time to kill every now and then. When this happens, we suppose you could do something like read a book or talk with a friend or family member, but who wants to do that? The Internet was invented so people wouldn’t have to do that anymore, right? What you want to do is go online and poke around a bit, but not just visit the same old boring sites. No, you need a destination, something new and interesting.

The way we see it, the Internet’s like New York City: it’s filled with all sorts of interesting and unusual diversions, there’s more going on “underground” than you realize, it’s got more than its fair share of junk and garbage, and it’s rife with bad manners and profanity. Plus, it can be kind of hard to find stuff if you don’t know where to look. What we’re saying is, you need a guide to show you around.

TRAVEL

National Geographic Traveler online

Anyone who dreams about traveling to exotic places should visit the online home of National Geographic Traveler, “the world’s most widely read travel magazine.” Here, you will find a treasure trove of travel tips and suggestions, photographs, and interesting articles, guaranteed to infect you with the travel bug. Browse the “Features” section, where you will fi nd the editors’ choices for the 2006 and 2007 top 50 tours of a lifetime, with direct links to learn more about each tour; “Sudden Journeys,” which includes 25 stories written by experienced travelers about spontaneous travel plans that led to some amazing memories; and “48 Hours Destination Guides,” which can help tourists make the most out of their time in any of 15 profiled cities. The “Photos” section features galleries of breathtaking photography from some of the most beautiful locales on the planet. Additional features include a travel blog, podcasts, and a newsletter that provides travel tips and deals.

BEST FEATURE: Jaw-dropping photos and photography content (including useful photo tips and advice and links to the some of the Internet’s best photo sites), and the “Little Book of Travel Wisdom”

WORST FEATURE: May cause acute envy, wanderlust, and the sudden urge to update your passport

CONTENT AGGREGATOR

MetaFilter

A community weblog where anybody can sign up and contribute a comment or a link to something they found online that struck them as interesting, odd, important, poignant, whatever. You never know what you’ll find here.

BEST FEATURE: MeFi Projects, a service “dedicated to helping MetaFilter members announce their new Web projects to the world”

MOVIES

IMDb.com

Find the answers to all your movie- and TV-related questions at IMDB (stands for “Internet Movie Database”). A quick search will provide links to trailers; cast and crew information; trivia and goofs; plot summaries; and much more. You can also search by individual names to find information and links to every movie/television series your favorite actor, director, or key grip has ever been involved with—in chronological order, no less. Great for settling bets (What’s the name of that actor who played the jerky bad guy in The Karate Kid, Back to School, and Just One of the Guys? What was Tom Hanks’ first film?).

BEST FEATURE: The easy-to-use navigation bar helps to quickly fi nd everything from trailers to reviews to summaries.

TIPS AND TRICKS: Check out the “Memorable Quotes” section for your favorite movies, if for no other reason than to spare your colleagues from hearing another butchered rendition of Bill Murray’s Caddyshack monologue (“So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet…”).

MUSIC

Last.fm

Music lovers, this convenient online tool allows you to type in the name of a favorite artist and, in a matter of seconds, stream music on your computer by that artist and other similar artists. This fun tool can help you discover new music you might not otherwise get the chance to hear. Take it a step further and download the Last.fm application to your desktop for free, enabling you to tap into its social network and communicate with other users who share similar tastes in music.

BEST FEATURE: “Scrobbling” (Last.fm keeps track of the songs you listen to most, enabling you to construct a musical profi le)

WORST FEATURE: Potential for impressionable young ears to be polluted, possibly terminally, by music from The Eagles.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Flickr

Need a place to upload and organize your digital photographs so your friends and family can view them? You should sign up to use Flickr so you can upload, organize, and view your photos and also allow other users to view them and post comments. Additional Flickr features include the “companion blog,” where you can post photos with comments and captions and ask and answer questions about photography; member reviews of the best and most popular cameras; and collections of interesting photos recently uploaded by members. Flickr has many partnerships with printing companies, enabling members to create photo cubes, books, and posters through Hewlett-Packard; “bookstorequality” books through Blurb; greeting cards, minicards, postcards, sticker books, and notecards through Moo; calendars, wrapping paper, mugs, puzzles, mousepads, t-shirts, magnets, and keychains through QOOP; framed photos through Imagekind; and bumper stickers, hats, buttons, canvas prints, postage stamps, and photo sculptures through Zazzle.

BEST FEATURE: Everything, really.

NEWS AND INFO

Lifehacker: Tech Tips, Tricks, and Downloads for Getting Things Done

Lifehacker is a daily blog that features “tips, shortcuts, and downloads that help you work and live smarter and more efficiently.” The creators pledge to publish more than 20 tips each day, and they don’t disappoint. The info and resources available here cover an exhaustive range of interests and applications, everything from “downloads, websites, do-it-yourself projects, how-to`s, and tutorials” to “shortcuts and tips for going beyond the default settings and getting things done

in the most clever, unexpected and efficient ways.”

BEST FEATURE: So much useful stuff.

MOVIES

Roger Ebert: Criticism above Reproach

Known for too long by too many as “the fat guy” half of the pioneering television duo Siskel & Ebert, the collected reviews on this site demonstrate that Roger Ebert is and always has been much more than one thumb. While you know him as a cultural icon, you may not know that he’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. Many of his movie reviews read more like essays on the human condition. His passion, his occasional anger, his politics, and his humor all shine through. Pick or pan, thumb up or down, what shows through on nearly every review on the site is that Roger Ebert really loves movies. Ebert has been battling throat cancer, and is still unable to speak, but his typing fingers are in fine form. Whether you consider yourself a movie buff or not, an Ebert review is a must-read, and an entertainment often far surpassing the movie being reviewed.

BEST FEATURE: The “Movie Glossary,” a collection of reader-submitted movie clichés and rules.

BESTEST FEATURE: The sheer joy and pleasure Ebert and his contributors take in all things cinema.

TIPS AND TRICKS: For some real fun, do a search of Ebert’s reviews for the movies he awarded zero stars.

CONTENT AGGREGATOR PopURLs

This site houses a daily roundup of “the latest Web buzz” from all the hottest sites (digg.com, reddit.com, flickr.com, youtube.com, slashdot.org, etc), plus “Quickie” links to interesting content from a variety of websites.

BEST FEATURE: Provides a quick-and-easy way of finding interesting online content.

TRAVEL

VirtualTourist.com

This informative travel site is chock full of “unbiased, user-generated travel content” about destinations across the globe. It offers insider tips, reviews, and photos snapped by travelers and locals. The site also informs about “Things to Do,” “Local Customs,” and even “Warnings or Dangers” for each destination profiled.

BEST FEATURE: The “10 Great Things to Do on VirtualTourist” site tutorial and the Travel Guides.

NEWS AND INFO

Daylife: A New Way to Explore the World

Billing itself as a “connection engine,” Daylife is a continuously updated site that covers world news, with high-quality photos, stories, blogs, quotes, and more. It features everything from politics to science to celebrities to sports. The interactive “Highlights” link displays coverage of world events with images and a scrolling preview.

BEST FEATURE: The “All Perspectives” feature, which links to similar takes on each story from dozens of news and entertainment outlets

MOVIES

Rotten Tomatoes

Not sure if that Lindsay Lohan Herbie sequel is worth the money? You’re in luck. Head over to Rotten Tomatoes and check out its massive archive of film reviews (the site boasts more than 127,000 titles and 644,000 review links in its database). Click on “Tomatopicker” to select a genre, or pull a review based on its approval rating from the “Tomatometer.” Also review soundtracks, synopses and trailers, and look up show times for movie theaters in your area. If you’re an indecisive moviegoer who relies on critics to tell you what soon-to-be blockbuster hit is worthy of an $11 popcorn and $8 blue raspberry ICEE, this is the site for you.

BEST FEATURE: Links to just about every worthwhile review, from online and traditional media sources, for just about every movie.

WORST FEATURE: Lots and lots of links and other site clutter can make navigating a bit tricky.

TIPS AND TRICKS: Definitely check out the Special Features for robust interviews, retrospectives, and other goodies.

NEWS AND INFO

Wachter’s World

Robert M. Wachter, MD, posts “lively and iconoclastic ruminations on hospitals, hospitalists, quality, safety, and more…” What sets Wachter apart from the thousands of other voices clogging the medical blogosphere are the depth and breadth of his experience, and his reasoned, analytical take on the latest healthcare news. What that means for you is a lack of fiery ranting from a soapbox, and an intense focus on how politics and policies affect actual clinicians in care settings. In the “About” section of the blog, Wachter promises to “…do my best to make it fun, interesting to read, and a bit contrarian and controversial. But never boring or wishy-washy. At least, that’s my goal.” Wachter rarely misses the mark.

BEST FEATURE: Informed, erudite opinion.

WORST FEATURE: Frequency of posts (write more, Bob!)

CONTENT AGGREGATOR

Neatorama

Start each day with a visit to this regularly updated repository of links to user-contributed online bric-a-brac, curiosities, and other ephemera.

BEST FEATURE: The interesting commentary that accompanies most links, plus links to other, similar sites and blogs (where you’ll find even more links).

Nintendo8.com

Just can’t keep up with the latest video games? Wish you could play something simpler? Too ashamed to get that old Nintendo game system out of attic (assuming it still works)? Well, you’re in luck. At this site, using just a few keys on your keyboard, you can play hundreds of the most popular games from the original Nintendo game system. Ah, the good-ole-days of Super Mario Brothers and Tetris!

BEST FEATURE: The titles of the Japanese games (Be-Bop Highschool, Booby Kids, Flappy, Muscle Tag Match, et al.)

WORST FEATURE: The constant nagging to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox (enough, already!)

TIPS AND TRICKS: Join the game-of-the-day mailing list to receive a link to a Nintendo “cult classic” each day in your Inbox.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Digital Photography Review

Warning - this site might turn you into a gadget junkie. If you are someone who enjoys taking photographs during every spare moment, then this site is the next best thing to actually having a camera in your hands. Dpreview.com previews and reviews cameras and camera accessories; every new item you see here will make you wonder “Is my camera good enough? Or does it need to be replaced immediately by this new and improved model?”

BEST FEATURE: The buying guide, informative discussion forums, and scads of in-depth reviews.

WORST FEATURE: Guaranteed to induce acute gear envy and chronic drooling in shutterbugs.

TIPS AND TRICKS: Before visiting the site, tell yourself that these products are just for looking at, not for buying. Even better, hide your credit cards.