June 18, 2006

Mousetrap 58

Luciferase + Fornacite = devilishly, um, funny site.
Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names
Chemistry, my friends, isn’t all about wild-haired brainy people wearing thick glasses and stained labcoats pouring stuff from one test tube into the other. These folk also frequenty find new stuff, or new combinations of old stuff (and thus we demonstrate why we flunked Chem in high school), and, by convention, get to name them. And, either by accident or design, some of them can be quite funny, if you have the right schoolboy kind of mind. I mean which red-blooded 9th standard lad won’t crack up when he hears about Arsole and Bastardane?

Equal Rites
regender
There are sites that will translate web pages for you on the fly. This is one of them. Except that it doesn’t change the language; as the name suggests, it regenders it. “What would the world look like if the two sexes switched places?” it asks, “What would it look like if English had genderless pronouns? What would it look like if English identified races the way it identifies gender?” To find out, slip a URL into the search box, and then check our the ‘revised’ version. And try out all the little buttons on the top, which will substitute pronouns for you. You could also view a regendered search on Google or Wikipedia. Fun. For a while.

In flight
AirSafe
Nervous flier? Join the gang. Even with the prettiest hawai sundaris in attendance, I usually spend most flights in a state of extreme nervousness. This site isn’t that reassuring at first: you see stuff like Fatal Events By Airline and by Aircraft Model and Fatal Event Rates and Most Recent Fatal Events. Clicking through gives some reassurance. Plenty of stats to show you your chances of a safe landing are rather decent after all. Plus there are top 10 tips and questions, and sections on topics like fear of flying, air rage and children. Very link-heavy, many of them, unfortunately, to pay sites or books you have to buy. Still, go for it. And you can keep your set back in a reclining position.

You’ll never watch alone
Joga Companion
This is for those of you who are football fans and Firefox users. It’s an easily installed add-on that lets you show support for your team by changing the browser’s look (but it keeps all your existing bookmarks and settings). It also lets you keep up with the scores, watch highlight videos, and network with fellow fans. The companion comes to you from Joga (Portuguese for ‘play,’), a Google creation. You won’t need to have a Google membership to download or use it, but you will have to sign up for the networking functions. But that won’t be a hardship for a footballista. (By the way, if you’re also an Orkut member, Joga imports most your settings automatically.) Link courtesy Bala Pitchandi.

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, 18th June, 2006.

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