August 07, 2005

Mousetrap - 14

Browse the planet
Google Earth
One of the more recent offerings from Google’s prolific labs, this is hours and hours of fascination. You’ll need to download the app first, and you’d better have a broadband connection. And from then on, you have the power of satellite imagery and maps at your fingertips. You can (only works for some parts of the world) get to see what it feels like to zoom in from outer space right into a particular street. Or try an orbit – adjust your height from the surface (I’d recommend going high enough so that the earth’s curvature becomes apparent), tilt the “camera,” then keep the mouse firmly pressed on one of the arrow keys. And bingo, you’re floating above the planet. Oh yes. A special bonus. Do also see Google Moon which offers you views of the lunar landing sites. Go to maximum zoom. There. Now you finally know what the moon is really made of.

Great minds think alike…
idea a day
“Where ideas are free,” the site says. And it delivers. Launched at the turn of the century, the site delivers a fresh user-contributed idea every day (it’s on Day 1814 as of this writing). And the thoughts contributed range from the recipes for world peace to flavours of chewing gum. The archive is a bit of a pain to browse through (a flash page, for heaven’s sake!), and offers only a limited look-see, but you can vote on ideas, get a free subscription, or even submit your own idea. Except that the site’s owners get the right to use it in their book (there’s one out already). Now that’s an idea.

…but some are, thankfully, unique
Totally Absurd Inventions
The USA, besides being arguably the most litigious society in the world, where you can sue a company because your coffee was hot when you spill it in your own lap, also seems to encourage some decidedly, er, different inventions. This site features inventions that hold actual US patents. There’s a portable spittoon (hang on, we could use some of those, here, right?), there’s a bird-powered blimp, there are “shin skis,” which look kinda fun, actually, and there’s even, believe it or not, a wig flipper. Really. Go see.

***

Blog of the week

Everybody hurts
PostSecret
I discovered this site just a couple of weeks ago, via a link found I don’t remember where, on a night when I was doing the lonely-as-a-cloud thing on the web. I spent an hour reading every post. The blog features postcards – collages, sketches, photographs, mixed media – and is a visual treat. But that isn’t why I’m recommending it. PostSecret is about secrets. You are invited to confess to anything that you’ve never told anyone before, via a home-made postcard mailed to their postal address. So, go see it for the range of confessions, for the creativity in the way they are expressed, and, most of all, because it tells you, no matter how low you’re feeling, that you’re not alone.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to http://o3.indiatimes.com/mousetrap for past columns, and to comment, or mail inthemousetrap@indiatimes.com
Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 1st August, 2005.

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