How to Waste Time Effectively on the Internet [circa 2003]

Well, you’re already halfway there.

Editors’ note: Bareford’s just this guy, you know? He’s been supposed to write this piece about news radio for us for the longest time, but instead he gave us this, which is about the 21st-century art of slacking off at work using the Internet. Except he didn’t even bother writing an introduction, and half the time he came up with some Web sites that sucked. As editors, we are omniscient and anonymous, and we also have the bookmark file of the gods.

At any rate, here are some cool places to go if you have no work ethic.



Message Boards

DC Comics

As the comic publisher with less blatant crotch shots than its most fearsome competitor, DC Comics’ Web site has provided their fans with compensation for this lack of titillation in the form of an online message board. Up until a few months back, the board was antiquated but well-run with a lot of folks that seemed to know each other pretty well.

Then DC switched over to a new system and lost all the users’ accounts, and every comic geek seems to have pretty much flipped their shit since. Unless you are interested in comics, there’s not much to do if you want to actually participate. However, great fun can be had witnessing the 34-year-old Green Lantern fans trying to rally petition strength to bring back Hal Jordan (and all from their mother’s basement … Rupert Pupkin, look out!)

Spawn

A somewhat less intense online community that focuses mostly on collecting action figures. They are called “action figures” despite the fact that many of them cannot even be stood up, let alone posed, because “dolls are for little girls” and “figurines are for fags.” A lot of this talk involves the Spawn figures themselves, but it is not restricted to such things.

The most horrifying part about this site is watching all ages of white, male virgins take pictures of the $200+ worth of toys they went out to buy on their lunch break. And then witnessing them, the next day, buying up at least three of the same figures from yesterday, “just in case.”

If I just had some Guggenheim money, I know I could do something with this site.

Ms. Magazine

It’s been weeks since I asked for my registration to be accepted. Apparently, Ms. Magazine wants nothing to do with me. Which is probably for the best: All I’ve seen on there are cat-fights galore and I know I’d be booted within 15 minutes because of the quote I’m currently keeping in all my signatures: “A hand job’s a man’s job; your job’s a blow job.” MC Paul Barman would probably not go over well, even if my nom de plume is “WomynFuckingRock69.”

Anandtech Off Topic

If you like arguing with 15 year olds, this is the site for you! Anandtech is one of the best resources for tech workers, especially the forums that deal with solving problems. However, like every good message board, there is an Off Topic forum.

The Off Topic forum allows thousands of techies to come together and assume that everyone but themselves is a flaming idiot. Territorial, snippy, and horny, the members of this board archive every conversation so that when you reply to anything, they are sure to tear you down, especially if they suspect you are liberal (read: anti-American) or have any sort of homosexual tendencies.

They hate all races except for Asian women and young Indian boys. Mostly because the vast majority of the board would either (a) like to bang them or (b) are them. They hate you, your post count determines your worth, and no thread will pass without someone requesting “PICS?”, demanding you stop posting, asking that the thread be locked, wondering how long before members are banned, and punishing members for reposting. And yet, I can’t resist it.

Note to women: Don’t bother. If you attempt to join the board, do so as a sexless entity. Most will just assume you are a man. If they find out you are a woman, you will be harassed for “PICS?” until such time that you give up, post what you feel to be a humble and tasteful picture of yourself, and then two-thirds of the board members will create a folder on their computers that hold this picture as well as records of every conversation you have had at Off Topic. Be warned: Internet geek stereotypes are generally true. They are all waiting to jack off while thinking of you.

Editors’ note: Slashdot for nerd fights, Ars Technica if you need some actual real help. Trust us on this one.

News

Fark

A lot of people say Fark has lost its edge, and maybe it has. I honestly don’t care. It still has “boobies” links that are clearly marked Safe For Work or Not Safe For Work. They also give a heads-up to fans that other entertaining Web sites (Strongbad, Retrocrush) have been updated. The Photoshop contests are interesting and a lot less serious than most of the others I’ve seen on the Web. Unfortunately, they all suffer from a number of Fark Photoshopping clichés, but what the hell do I care? There are still “boobies” links on the site if I get bored.

Editor’s note: Fark is good for real-life news, but when it comes to shit going down on the net, the Something Awful forums are the way to go. The things I’ve seen with these eyes …

Drudge Report: Fox News without the Grinning Assholes

Matt Drudge covers stories so quickly, he often places links up for things that he is only anticipating happening. For this, I consider him as valid a news source as Fox. But Drudge provides something that Fox doesn’t. The Drudge Report may be one of the easiest and fastest ways to find the headlines from all sorts of news sources, and this is why I consider it a great tool for keeping oneself occupied at work.

Not only does it provide easy links to basically every news source you could care to read, it looks like a pretty valid page to be reading should anyone of consequence feel the need to look in your direction (don’t worry, though, that probably won’t be happening).

The best feature on Drudge is the listing of many known journalists on the bottom of the page, with links to their own columns. Only on Drudge does a columnist from the Jewish World Review get to sit right above Hunter S. Thompson.

Editor’s note: Google News looks more legit to passersby and is assembled by robots. What else do you want?

Rotten Tomatoes

The best place for movie reviews. The idea is simply to compile all the reviews around and make them easily accessible, give a simple rating system (rotten or not, based on a 100-percent scale) and then let the reader decide what he thinks. But it provides much more entertainment than function for me; I gave up on movie reviews when the only half-interesting reviewer in my paper became A.O. Scott and I couldn’t help but notice that Ain’t It Cool News became with each passing day an increasingly more ironic title for a Web site that appears to have been designed in 1994.

Anyway, Tomatoes’ compiling powers provide entertainment for folks stuck behind a terminal with nothing to do all day. You could compare just how many reviewers appear to be “borrowing” sentences from each other. It’s always nice to be reminded that although the top five movies royally suck, they are still bringing in more money than you will ever see.

And, of course, there is something satisfying about looking up a movie like “Brazil” and then finding out that Roger Ebert found this movie “very hard to follow.” It’s particularly exciting because a number of older films still have the original reviews that went with them. And before blurbs were so important, there were some actually intelligent criticisms.

Penny Arcade: “Hey, fuck you!”

Sure, if you want computer-related humor in cartoon form, you can just go read some Dilbert or maybe go to Homestar Runner. But Dilbert reminds us all too much of the truth that when working in a similar situation, you are utterly hopeless and, in fact, miserable at work.

And while Homestar Runner provides the brilliant Strongbad emails, I fear its time is limited. Just the other day, I heard it mentioned on the radio. How much longer until it falls prey to the Jump The Shark Syndrome? Do we really want a Homestar Runner book/movie/TV show/CD/video game? Hell no, so just head over to Penny Arcade for all your video game-related comic strips.

Editors’ Note: The problem with almost all Web comics is that they just aren’t funny. Penny Arcade has its moments and certainly deserves respect for surviving as long as it has. But because they’re on a three-strips-a-week schedule, there’s a whole lotta wasteland on the way to Sugarville. And let’s not talk about the recurring jokes driven into the ground … (Gigantic X-Box controllers, anyone?)

Anaroch: Have at you!

This is a simple text-based RPG. Basically, you get a name and you “train.” The longer you train, the more Experience and Skill points you get. Skill points can be used to buy Defense, Attack, and so on. Every once in a while, someone may challenge you and you can maybe win some more points. To prevent bots from playing for characters, a message will pop up once in a while asking you to type in the number shown.

It sounds really dumb and, honestly, it is really dumb. The hardest part of the game, though, is stopping. Once you start, you can run the game in the background while doing just about anything. In no time at all, you’ll have a couple hundred thousand points of XP. For this reason, I implore all those readers with any inkling of obsessive disorders to remain as far away from Anaroch as possible, because the main problem with the game is: You can never do it enough. There will always be someone in the list of players that has more points than you. Turning the game off only helps you to slip further from the top, and the game can easily become a maddening endeavor to try and beat the other psychopaths.

eReader: It’s free!

There may be some people reading this that are morally and politically opposed to Microsoft (perhaps you’ve seen their guerilla campaign of using “$” to spell the company name). Well, to those people I say, “Good for you. I’m sure Microsoft is feeling the loss in much the same way that your congregation did when you were a teenager and you suddenly realized that religion is ‘bullshit, man … just all bullshit.’ ”

For the rest of us, Microsoft has recently been releasing three free e-books online each week. Among the first released were such classics as Hitchhiker’s Guide and Don Quixote. They also release a lot of mystery novels no one in their right mind would buy. But hell, for free, I’d even read this article.

Editors’ note: As stewards of Crunchable, we are well-acquainted with this idea.

Article © 2003 by Jon Bareford