Sunday, 20 May 2007

Mousetrap - 103

Who is Sick?
Matter of time before someone thought of this, I guess, and many would be kicking themselves for not having done so. This site is a mashup, that uses the Google Maps interface to let you know what diseases are going around. It’s brilliant in its simplicity: readers who are feeling in any way unwell can post their symptoms anonymously. Or can check out their areas for what illnesses seem to be going around; a quick glance at the map will tell you what’s been reported where. Useful to check the place you live and work, or plan to visit, or where dear ones are. Of course it relies on user participation to be effective. So for it to become more useful to you, you need to evangelise it to all and sundry. So if you’re sneezin’ and wheezin’ and your feet smell and your nose runs, log on here and tell the world about it.

Sound 101 :: Bad Vibes Horrible Sounds
There wasn’t enough space to write about this in the “101” column two weeks ago, so here you are now. This site is a university project to find the worst sounds in the world. The ones that set our teeth on edge, or that fill us with dread—or at least unease. It’s a simple interface, but will take a bit of time to load for those of you still on dial-up. Of course you’ll need a sound card and speakers or headphones. You simply play sounds and rate them, and then you get to see how your rating compares with the averages for that sound (from ratings by over a million visitors). I won’t tell you which sound leads the polls for the worst ever; it might make you throw up. When you’ve had enough, try out their mixer, which lets you combine awful sounds to come up with your own remix. No Bollypop samples there, strangely..

Regret the error
In printing presses all over the world, there’s this invisible creature called the Printers’ Devil. Back in the days of moveable type, it copped the blame for any errors that crept in to printed matter through oversights, ignorance or mistakes. Despite most of the world’s major presses these days using computers, the Devil still makes a decent living. And this site lists the bloopers that appear in the media, the “corrections, retractions, clarifications and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the media.” Most of the links tend to be North American, but there’s a fair sprinkling from other parts of the world too. Oh, and, um, last week, in the snippet about, in the first line, “step by step instructions” should have been “step-by-step instructions.” We, er, regret the error.

Cats, for all their regal reserve, can be pretty expressive. And if you don’t believe that, this site should convince you. Filled with contributions from all over the world, it claims to be “the largest collection of sour-faced, indignant felines on the Internet.” There’s a forum too, and a store, and whatnot. But really, it’s all about them cats who look at you with scorn.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 20th May, 2007.

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