Translation Journal
Caught in the Web

Web Surfing for Fun and Profit


by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Caught in the Web
Well, Matthew Schlecht thought this was a fun timewaster, although actually it could be useful for friends and family of travelers. "Live tracking of all airline flights - updated every 10 seconds. Left click on the plane image to see airline, plane type, flight origin and destination. It's especially interesting to zoom out and look at where in the world the clusters of air travel are - and aren't."
Gudmund Areskoug suggests this site: "Why working from home is both awesome and horrible." Comics!
The dictionary site WordReference has a new place "to provide a fun, interactive way to strengthen your language skills". The games seem to be based on English at the moment.
I am not going to even pretend this is useful for our work, but it's a fun timewaster for the nonverbal part of our brains. A blonde hairpiece gets around...
Here's a fun way to procrastinate while allegedly working on your typing skills. Words and sometimes letters drop down at varying speeds and will explode off the screen only if you type them correctly. Gives you your accuracy in percent and words per minute. (English)
The board is filled with hexagons and you need to make paths between them by rotating the hexagons with possible path segments inside, avoiding the outer walls and making the paths as long as possible. Fortunately, they include a YouTube video ... Good time waster, er, brain exercise that doesn't involve any words. /
If you have been at the computer so long that you wonder what other humans look like: Here's a blog accepting submissions of family pictures recreated at older ages, side by side. Amazing how relative heights seem to change in 20 years or so...
Kirill Sereda says this web radio station is cool, so of course I believe him.
Here's a wiki for multilingual idioms passed along by Yves Lanthier. IDIOMIZER is "an idiom comparison site currently incorporating over 40 languages." Fun to browse, also useful for translators.
00GLYves Lanthier also passed along this YouTube video about an elaborate turn-around prank on a Belgian company known for awful customer service. It's in Flemish with English subtitles. If you have ever played telephone tag with customer service anywhere for anything, you will love it.
I Can Has Cheezburger now has a free iPhone//iPad/iPod Touch and Android app (and maybe Palm Pre and Blackberry by now) for all you folks who can't get enough of internet cats (and especially Lolcats) plus occasionally clever captions. Access to other quirky sites also via the app and the url above. But you'll get more of the Lolcats at the url, so just bookmark it in your mobile phone's web browser unless you are on a strict low-Lolcat diet.
This is actually (gasp!) work-related as well as a bit of fun: Nuance, the home of Dragon Dictate, has some free mobile apps if you want to try out dictation or no longer remember how to type with fingers. Three apps for iPhone/iPad/iPod: Dragon Dictation, Dragon Go!, and Dragon Search. Also Dragon for E-Mail for Blackberry and FlexT9 for Android.
Here's a nice collection of free demos to download for all the timewasters, er, skill-enhancing applications you might need. The downloadable versions are all PC games (or as I like to call them, "non-mac games") but there are also some that can be played online (with any species of computer).
From the Monterey Bay Aquarium: Check out their library of deep-sea videos.
"The Visual Dictionary is a collection of words in the real world. Photographs of signage, graffiti, advertising, tattoos..." Not exactly much use for translating, but a lot of fun to look at while procrastinating.
Origami taken to a new level: Cardboard furniture for the kids, constructed from all those boxes you keep collecting in your office. Downloadable patterns you can print out on your printer and let the kids decorate. "Follow the instructions and assemble a stable piece of furniture."
Old photographs from the 1850s to the 1950s. Street scenes, individuals, groups, etc. Thousands of photos.
Travel without leaving your office - click on a spot on the world map, and see local photographs.
"The World Digital Library makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world." An ongoing project. Journals, manuscripts, maps, photos, books, sound recordings, even some short films. Nice for browsing.
Here is an enlightening tiny drama ("A Wicked Deception") you can use to explain why exactly Google Translate hasn't put you out of a job: "In the spirit of international brotherhood, the dialogue for the following film has been translated from English into French, then into German, then back into French, then back again into English using a popular translation website. The original dialogue will be subtitled for your convenience." It does indeed "fire my heart with a flame extreme." Thanks to Louise Morehead for pointing out this one.
Howard Scott suggests this "Sleeping Beauty Remix... brilliant visual jokes, great drawing": Sleeping Betty (Claude Cloutier, 2007; 9 min 13 sec, slightly shorter than a Spongebob Squarepants episode). Grand example of a cartoon ready for international distribution without a single subtitle. Other enjoyable animated time wasters available at the site, if you have more than 9 minutes and 13 seconds to spare.
Check out your isp's home page to see if they have online games and free game demo downloads available and maybe good prices on downloaded full games. This url is for my cable company's games site. Check out the Puzzle section for good time-wasters for stressed-out translators.
Loads of fun time-wasters at the zefrank site in the games and interactive toys sections. Memory is an abstract animated memory match game--fun to play even if you keep making bad matches.
Process Engineering Terminology (what process Engineers say and what they mean by it). For example: "Developed after years of intensive research" means "It was discovered by accident." "Test results were extremely gratifying" translates as "It works, and are we surprised!". Other subject-specific fun stuff at the site.
"This is a 'cheat sheet' for the Japanese language. It is an attempt to condense and organize as many of the basic elements of the language onto one sheet of paper as possible." Meant to be downloaded and printed, but can be viewed on the computer as well. Lots of other Japanese language-related and cultural info at the full Nihonshock site, such as how to park your car in Japan, all about Japanese keyboards, a comparative consumer study of Japanese pizza joints, etc. Nihonshock is a blog by Lloyd Vincent, "a translator living in Nagoya, Japan" that "offers useful and enjoyable content for Japanese language learners, foreigners living in Japan, and anyone else with an active interest in the country." Well worth a look even if like me, the only Japanese you know is "arigato" (learned from a Japanese tile set in the Shanghai computer game), "konichiwa" (learned from a Kim Possible cartoon), "sayonara," "pokémon," and "Godzilla" (also learned from too much time watching tv).
Nice collection of free online time-wasting games. (mobile phone version)

This can be used both as a time waster and for legitimate work purposes (see duplicate entry under Search Engines). Michelle Asselin found this relatively new but cool search engine that insists it isn't one: "Wolfram Alpha [is] a computational knowledge engine. It generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base, instead of searching the web and returning links." Clear as mud, perhaps, but this just means that when you enter key words in a query, if it knows about it then you get back an organized bit of information rather than a set of links to explore. (Woefully ignorant about current cartoons, better on movies. But it does know Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy and some of his family tree, except for perpetually lucky cousin Gladstone Gander. ) Hit the Examples link at the top to see how it works. You can also insert a Wolfram Alpha box on a Google or Yahoo desktop or your own website. Before you ask&151;there's an app for it (iPhone and iPad). And yes, if you type in the query:

answer to the universe and everything
then it indeed returns the answer "42"...
UK-US English etc. Words with Different Meanings in Other Countries. Nice for browsing and figuring out Britcoms (if you're in the US) or American sitcoms (if you're in the UK).
This seems appropriate for translators, sort of a dynamic Boggle plus Tetris: bubbles with letters drop down, type words from the letters in the bubbles to make up words and clear them before they fill up the screen. Seems to be just in English...
This will keep you from working every again: more than 22,000 archived short "educational" films that are much funnier now than when we were forced to watch them in a darkened schoolroom. The archive goes back to the 1930s, so you can see what traumatized your grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents.
Wonderfully detailed reviews of candy from around the world, complete with colorful pictures of the exterior and interior of the fun stuff. Who knew that there are so many "localized" KitKats, or that different companies are licensed to make them in different countries? Nestle Japan seems especially innovative. Hershey makes their own varieties in the US, although we seldom see anything but the "standard" KitKat in my area.
Not sure how to describe this, but great for browsing to see what you could do if you weren't tied to your computer all day. Or maybe even if you are. Plug in "home office" or "workspace" in the search box.
Sonia Murray found this eclectic collection of annotated links to "Jargon, slang, and niche vocabularies." Worth browsing through even if you think you'll never need it...
Astronomy Photographers of the Year for 2009 at the National Maritime Museum. Really beautiful photos. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
Good safe place to find freeware and shareware and free demos (including, of course, games). I suggest searching in mac games for "jewel" to bring up several nice, sparkly, match-three type games to get your eyes and brain away from words for a while. (Bejeweled, Jewel Quest, Jewel Twist.)
Jill Timbers found this YouTube offering on "how to negotiate rates" that is of course very work-related in case someone catches you watching: "The Vendor Client relationship&151;in real world situations".
The adventures of Mox, the struggling translator: Mox, Lena & Mina, a comic strip by a not quite so struggling real-life translator, Alejandro Moreno-Ramos in Madrid.
Another mind-boggling site: How to convert fast food (Chicken McNuggets, Dunkin' Donuts, etc.) into apparent gourmet dishes. You have to see it to believe it, they are not just rearranging the McNuggets on a plate.... Blenders are involved. Blenders! Complete with real photographs and instructions in case you are insane enough to try it yourself. As they say: "Yeah, it's still bad for you - but see how good it can look! These photographs show extreme makeovers of actual fast food items purchased at popular fast food restaurants. No additional ingredients have been added except for an occasional simple garnish (and a touch of irony)." You are invited to contribute your own fast food makeovers, or at least comment on the ones already there.
If you like the fancyfastfood site&151;here's another junk food winner of a site. "This is why you're fat (where dreams become heart attacks)." Photos galore of junk food creations guaranteed to clog your arteries just looking at them. Many are real menu items, but some are just surreal homemade concoctions. Fortunately, most are not suitable for vegetarians, so I'm relatively safe. Except I think the pizza cones are actually a good idea.... and I've had fried macaroni & cheese balls and also fried ravioli, and they actually were pretty good.
Free registration to view online tv shows and movies, past and present. Even Disney is planning to come on board. Cartoons included&151;they've got the English-dubbed Astro Boy! Anime, sitcoms, dramas, etc. All 105 episodes of NewsRadio! Alas, restricted to viewers in the USA at the moment.
Loads of online games perfect for procrastinating&151;and they have time limits! Perfect for meeting deadlines.
Interactive art: create your own, "revise" other's efforts, be the art critic.
A big collection of optical illusions to amuse and confuse. Detailed explanations about how to observe each one and why it works.
Online paddle ball: keep the ball bouncing, aim for the record. Check out other flash games available at the site also; they do tend to be a bit weird.
The old game of Concentration updated with pairs of music clips.
Well, this shooter is reasonably nonviolent: you bounce a circle at other shapes, trying to create a trajectory that will hit certain shapes while avoiding others.
Okay, I admit it. Mac'er though I am, I am entirely too fond of old DOS games such as Monuments of Mars but haven't been able to play them since my pc emulators went to DOS 6 (they won't install). Here is a legal and nicely done site that provides a lot of old DOS games as freeware and shareware and also links to commercial games that are still being sold. Some of them can be played online if you're lucky (more than 150 of them so far). They focus on the really good ones, not heaps of the so-so ones. (Including, of course, Monuments of Mars, which can now be distributed as freeware in its entirety rather than just the first volume.) Most importantly for me, they provided info about and a link to a DOS emulator called DOSbox, available for several flavors of computer species. The version for Mac OS X ran fine right away on my mac mini/intel in Tiger. I downloaded Monuments of Mars from the site to avoid further hassle getting the disk images onto my mac from the floppy&151;and voilà! There was the little astronaut trying to pick his way through all those guard robots! All the old colors and clicky/zappy sounds I knew and loved were there, and the speed was perfect. (The really amazing thing is that I actually remembered most of the DOS commands...) The site also has forums and other helpful information, well worth a look for DOS distraction.
Howard Scott found this "pharmaceutical resource" of interest to all, the official site for the new drug Havidol (avafynetyme HCl): "When more is not enough. Havidol is the first and only treatment for dysphoric social attention consumption deficit anxiety disorder (DSACDAD)." If you don't have it, please pass this vital information along to a loved one who does.
Karen Tkaczyk found this new cause for us all to get behind, "saving lost words from extinction". You can adopt a word and promise to spread the word. Now if I can only figure out how to get "ten-cent store" into a conversation... At the site, you encounter a colorful collage of words up for adoption, all clamoring "pick me! pick me!". Literally. Like a basket full of puppies.
Susan Larsson steers us toward this actually work-relevant distraction: "Word Quiz: Evil Twin. Star Trek made it easy to tell the Evil Spock from the normal one. The goatee was a giveaway. Though the English language has no telltale goatee, it's a hairy thing. It's full of words that sound alike but mean very different things. How well can you distinguish these evil twins from one another? Martha Brockenbrough created this quiz for you to find out."
Amy Bryant gives us yet another way to procrastinate. This particular link sends you to "The Impotence of Proofreading" page on the site, so you can pretend you're working. Once you're bored with that - follow the other links.
Oh, no! Another collection of word games!
Short "how-to" videos on all sorts of subjects: music, pets, business, fitness, tech, games, food, travel, sports, etc. They bill themselves as a "Life Videopedia". Hey, you can spare 5 minutes, right?
Sonia Murray is to blame for pointing out this "addictive timewaster". Hey, it's educational! Sort of. Exercises another part of your brain, at least. If you can't resist adjusting pictures that hang slightly crooked on the wall, this one's for you. You can test how good you really are at aligning those picture frames: "The game works by showing you a series of geometries that need to be adjusted a little bit to make them right. A square highlights the point that needs to be moved or adjusted. Use the mouse to drag the blue square or arrowhead where you feel it is 'right'. Once you let go of the mouse, the computer evaluates your move. The correct geometry is also shown in green, so you can see where you went wrong." It's quick and much simpler than it sounds.
Salvador Virgen says this is "a web site that records music from the Internet radio stations and allows you to play them later at your leisure."
Worth another look if you haven't checked it out in a while &151; the old 10-minute limit is finished. In addition to the usual fun, YouTube is now running some full-length episodes from various networks. Apparently the networks are waking up to the profit possibilities: In the past, when a network has complained about an unofficially posted clip, YouTube gave them the option of having it deleted or putting ads on it and splitting the revenue. More than 90% of the time, the complainer decided to take the ad route.
Here's an example of episodes available on YouTube, suggested by Margaret Schroeder: Garth Marenghi´s Darkplace. Margaret says: "Don't be afraid to start, there are only 6 episodes." She says the second link is "a guide (scripts, episode guides, characters, etc, here). But watch an episode first so you will appreciate what it's all about. 'Maggots? Maggots. [looks at book to check word] Maggots. Maggots, maggots, maggots. [looks again] Maggots.' (from opening of Episode 2) ."
Now you get to predict the news at this online prediction market. "Hubdub makes news more exciting by letting you stake virtual dollars on the outcomes of running news stores." You can also just browse through what people are betting on now. New registered users get 1000 hubdub dollars when they join and you also get 20 hubdub dollars each day you log on to the site. Can't buy a pizza with it, but can keep on gambling without losing the rent money...
Okay, now we have an anti-fun contribution. Free mac and windows program that tracks your time spent in all your applications. No longer can you hide from your solitaire addiction. The site has a demo to illustrate the features.
"Bad Haiku: Horrible poetry for the digital age." Yes, you can make your own contributions. My Earthlink isp suggested this site in their newsletter, saying:
Visit this site, please.
Bad haiku? Judge for yourself.
At least it's quite short.
Those of us who remember Archie the Cockroach, who had the transmigrated soul of a poet and banged out lower-case-only poems painstakingly every night on an old typewriter in the newspaper office (he would have greatly appreciated the caps lock key on modern computers), may relate to this Cockroach Caresheet. The main site of the Bug Club (Amateur Entomologists' Society) has other buggy resources also. Apparently the Madagascan Hissing Cockroach makes a great pet. Who knew?;-My-Daily-Column.html
Tony Crawford passed along this link to a novel time-tracking method for the more three-dimensionally visual multitaskers amongst us. Really worth a look! Check out the comments, too. We're never too old to play with blocks.
If you don't already have a batch of child-generated artwork on your refrigerator door - this might be a substitute. The Global Children's Art Gallery: from kids 2-12 years old.
A recent windstorm that knocked out my cartoons on cable tv for more than half a day (the horror!) reminded me how essential it is to have backup sources of media. There's a reason I have both cable and dsl net access... The Fancast site has full-length TV shows from many US networks.
More links to all sorts of interesting shows and clips available on the web. Not so helpful for cartoon addicts, leans toward more intellectual fare (documentaries, dramas, etc.). But is still great for procrastinating.
Great time-waster site with interesting news and trivia about food, food, food and of course recipes. One woman claims (with pictures) that she found a strawberry embedded in a tomato... Now there's a hybrid! Comments areas to ask and answer questions. For instance, how to make vegan junk food.
Get your astronomy pic of the day, along with some explanation of the astronomical wonder. You can even claim it's educational rather than a procrastination tactic.
Check your typing speed with TypeRacer! Brag about your stats! Pretend you're working! One of these days I'll have to find my old Nintendo Mario Teaches Typing....
Hey, we all need to exercise our memories! We get enough of words in our work. In Picto, you have to click on the last-added graphic symbol. Not so easy when there are dozens on the screen.
Amazing collection of videos showing Japanese beer-for-kids commercials (not to worry, it's nonalcoholic), a tv English lesson for Japanese kids, the kids doing a bunch of odd things for some Japanese game show and also kid bands, etc. In case it disappears, YouTube tags would be Kodomo no nominmono, Japanese beer for kids, Japanese, children, kids, beer... Also includes a Japanese beer commercial featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger (I assume before he was elected governor of the US state of California). Ran into it when researching the can of whatever that Shin Chan's dad was guzzling after a hard day at work. (See? Cartoons are educational.)
If you want to see more of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Japanese commercials for various things, here's the site for them. He seems to be into noodles and various beverages.
The Nickelodeon kiddie shows "Dora the Explorer" and her spun-off cousin's "Go, Diego, Go", mixing Spanish and English, have been so popular that now Nick Jr. is branching out to Mandarin Chinese/English: "Ni Hao, Kai-Lan" with another cute little big-headed kid (Kai-Lan), her grandfather, and a bunch of bilingual animals and ants. Yes, ants. I learned how to count to ten in Mandarin, but forgot it by the end of the episode. Maybe after the umpteenth rerun, it will stick.
Diane Di Biasio pronounces this "the sweetest site I've seen". A nice dose of cuteness for the jaded translator. Oh, also lots of WAV files for your computer listening pleasure.