April 16, 2006

Mousetrap - 49

Hidden treasures
The Easter Egg Archive
We’re not talking about the sugary ovoids your Christian pals will give the kids today. But yes, it’s a related concept. In some parts of the world, on Easter Sunday, eggs are hidden for children to find. And in the world of computers, an Easter Egg is a hidden doodad of some kind, put in thanks to a programmer’s quirk, or as an inside joke, completely irrelevant to the software’s function. If you’ve had an email address for a bit, chances are you’ve got the forward about the flight simulator in Microsoft Excel. Well, that’s an Easter Egg. The definition seems to have broadened since I last looked, and now includes TV shows, movies, books and art as well. This site collects (yes, you can contribute) and lists these little bits of whimsy, and it can get pretty addictive. There’s also a discussion board. Warning: pretty often, the site forces you to watch an ad before showing you the page you want, which can get tiresome.

A bird in hand
Songbird
Songbird is a new music player, built on Firefox’s browser engine, and the enlightened and the apostles of open source have been enthusing on it awhile. It has all the standard music player functions, plus it promises to play music right off the web, “without leaving the page.” As with Firefox, expect the open source community to rally round, creating extensions that will expand its features. Keep an eye out on the community forum. Play on!

The Force with you be
Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki
It all started when the Star Wars information on Wikipedia became, shall we say, a leetle too abundant. Complaints happened. So loyal fans now run their own wiki, with the freedom to go into loving, obsessive detail on every aspect of the series. If you’re visiting for the first time, you’ll be floored by the amount of info. If you’re a fan, you already know about this. (Yes, of course, you must go see the official site at www.starwars.com, which, besides a lot of fun data, will also try and sell you stuff.)

Beam me up
Memory Alpha
If there’s a breed of fan that’s even more fervent than Star Wars fans, it has to be the Trekkies. With the various TV series and the movies (or what the fans call the “canon”), they admittedly have more to be crazy about. There’s oodles of info here (it’s the largest of the Wikia Wikities, I’m told), but if that’s not enough for you, there’s also the Non-Canon Star Trek Wikicity at startrek.wikia.com, which pays homage to the novels, RPG sourcebooks, video games, comic books, and other material And www.startrek.com, the official site, has an enormous amount of fun stuff, including a massive searchable library.

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This Week’s Blog

ChroniKill
The dullest blog in the world
Many bloggers I know look down on the kind of diary blog that goes into obsessive detail about the blogger’s life. This blog is quite the most delicious send-up of the genre. To describe it in detail would be to ruin it for you, but hey, the title is a give-away.

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. The writer blogs at http://zigzackly.blogspot.com.

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 16th April, 2006.

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