Complete Waste of Time
|by Mathew Ingram|
Let's face it -- nobody needs the Web (except for shut-ins maybe). You could pick up a newspaper instead of going to The New York Times or CNN.com or MSNBC, you could go stand in line at the bank instead of using their Web site, and you could call your broker instead of trying to manage your portfolio through Globe Investor or iMoney or by randomly clicking on the "buy" button at E*Trade. Better yet, you could do all the work you keep procrastinating about, or write a letter, or -- what the heck -- maybe even read a book.
But why do any of that when you could visit a site like Bert Is Evil, play a game like Shotgun Wedding, browse around the Museum Of Bad Art, or take a peek into the mind of an unusual man named George Kotolaris -- who used the public filing laws in Seattle to record his entire bizarre existence on microfilm for your perusal. Or you could check out the adventures of Hillbilly Hercules, an exercise in guerilla film-making. Of course, there's lots of useful stuff out there too, but it's not as much fun. I've got some links to both, so feel free to look around.
I have a thing about inventors of the past that have gone unrecognized -- like sultry 1940s movie star Hedy Lamarr, who helped develop the spectrum-hopping broadcasting technology now used in everything from cellular phones to military radios. Or there's Philo T. Farnsworth, a farm-boy from Utah who invented the first TV when he was only 22. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA), reverse-engineered his technology and put him out of business. When Philo died in 1971, he was working on fusion technology. RCA did something similar with radio, after a genius named Edwin Armstrong invented the FM (frequency modulation) standard. RCA tied him up in court, and he killed himself in 1954.
When it comes to useful things, I've collected some media-related links at something I call the High-Tech Reader. There's lots of 'zines like The Obvious, personal diary and confession-style sites like the fray, and indefinable oddities like Tweak -- as well as the Online Journalism Review and a great site called The Smoking Gun that specializes in collecting embarassing legal documents (many involving celebrities).
Also along useful lines, I've got some investment-related sites collected at the High-Tech Investor -- including quote services like PCQuote, interactive chart sites like Big Charts, and technical analysis sites like WallStreetCity. There are also some good online discussion sites such as Silicon Investor and an investment education-discussion community called The Motley Fool. There are lots of other investment-type sites out there, some good and some not so good -- if you want to find out more about a stock, a good place to start is the SEC's Web site. When it comes to stock picks, a good rule of thumb is that the more exclamation marks there are, the poorer the advice.
Still got some time on your hands? You could read a tribute to my late father, who died of cancer just as he was beginning to get interested in the Web. You can also e-mail me about anything you want, including suggestions for additions to any of the pages mentioned above. Or you could sign my guestbook if you feel like it. If you want to cruise some of the online news sites that I like to frequent, you can use my News page.