If you look closely into the Interwebz, with a microscope, you'll find tiny villages of quirky sites run by even quirkier people who are passionate about the darndest things and have loads of free time on their hands. Here's a short roundup of some of the more interesting ones I've found lately.
1. Better View Desired
A blogger over at betterviewdesired.com reviews nothing but birding binoculars. He tests them all in the field, over time, and measures each against his a standard pair he always uses.
2. One Bag
OneBag.com is not a blog, but instead a sort of travel gear reference guide that is forever being revised - since 1996!
3. Coffee Geek
At coffeegeek.com, bloggers rate coffee grinders, steamers, drippers, holders and beans, both the commercial types as well as those you'd buy for your home.
4. Everything USB
There are no formal reviews here, but busy user forums dispense chat on USB products and USB tutorials, and there is a very handy comparative shopping matrix, which offers some relief in deciding which model of a USB device is best.
5. Find A Scope
Ripped right from findascope.com's site: "There are a lot of people who are anxious to own a telescope to view the heavens above, but who need direction as to what scope to buy. This is my FAQ, and while I try to be objective, it does reflect my viewing biases."
6. Bent Rider Online
Bentrideronline.com is a review site for recumbent bicycles. The reviewers on this site attempt to make a judgement about the value of the bike in context of other bikes they have known.
7. Flashlight Reviews
The reviews on flashlightreviews.com are rigorous technically, pretty consistent, very thorough and quantifiable. Lots of close-up photos. They rate the lights in an easy to compare chart, which you can sort by rating, and they thankfully indicate "top picks" with a easy to spot thumbs up
This Website Lets You Watch Every Single 'Stare' Scene from The Office
BY Kirstin Fawcett
January 3, 2017
A facial expression is often worth a thousand words—especially on NBC’s The Office. Characters are prone to breaking the fourth wall by staring directly into the camera, their smiles, grimaces, and stares providing viewers with a glimpse inside their heads. By the time the show’s final episode aired in 2013, audiences could instantly recognize—and interpret—Jim Halpert's ironic stare, Dwight Schrute's self-satisfied smirk, and Michael Scott’s awkward fake smile.
For fans looking to relive these quietly hilarious scenes, Nerdist reports that a website, The Office Stare Machine, has compiled “every single time a character speechlessly breaks the 4th wall and stares at the camera.” Creator Joe Sabia spent a year and a half building an archive of more than 700 clips, and teamed up with developer Aaron Rasmussen to display them online. The site features a search engine, which allows visitors to type in more than 800 different emotions—boredom, sadness, anger, and loneliness, to name a few—and watch a corresponding video snippet.
Aside from its laugh factor, The Office Stare Machine provides viewers with a unique way of getting to know their favorite characters’ personalities. According to the site’s creators, Michael Scott, as played by Steve Carell, has the most “happy” expressions, whereas Dwight Schrute, a.k.a. Rainn Wilson, has the most devious ones. And despite his fun-loving, easygoing nature, Jim, who's played by John Krasinski, is sad the most—presumably because of his long-running struggle to win secretary Pam Beesly’s affections.
Check out a few clips from The Office Stare Machine below, or visit the site to view the full archive. If you need an extra incentive to watch the entire collection, the website is also designed to play “a secret, epic, and beautifully crafted surprise video” once you're done browsing its catalog of emotions.
An Allen’s hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) has been returning to the same ficus tree in Southern California to build nests and raise her chicks for 11 years now. The anonymous homeowner named her Bella and installed a camera to share the nesting activity with everyone in 2012. You can follow Bella live as she tends to her nest, keeping the tiny eggs warm until they hatch.
The Metro Richmond Zoo in Moseley, Virginia, has a cheetah breeding facility which is currently housing three litters of cheetah cubs. Two litters have webcams trained on their enclosures; the screenshot here shows mother Milani and her cubs.
3. FARM ANIMALS
If you’ve ever craved the experienced of a working farm without having to do the chores, you can load the live barnyard webcam at Flying Skunk farm in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The farm raises chickens, ducks, geese, and goats. This webcam has a microphone to capture the honks, clucks, crows, and general poultry cacophony, which can be a nice background for your web surfing.
Life isn't great for feral cats. Kittens born in the wild have abysmal survival rates, and those that survive to adulthood aren’t used to humans, making them difficult to find homes for. To bring down the numbers of feral cats, some rescue groups run TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs—and in British Columbia, TinyKittens teamed up with Langely Animal Protection Society to do just that. The goal is to prevent cats from getting pregnant, but when TinyKittens finds a pregnant feral cat, the facility takes her in, caring for her and her kittens so they're acclimated to humans. When the kittens are ready, they go to loving homes, and mom is spayed and released. Right now TinyKittens' live webcam is trained on Skye, a blind feral rescue cat with a litter of kittens. Treatment has restored a little sight in one of her eyes, but she doesn’t need to see her kittens to love them.
Take a peek inside the Warrior Canine Connection's Puppy Enrichment Center with this live cam, which features future service dogs who will one day help wounded veterans reconnect with their lives and loved ones.
6. UNDERWATER REEF
An underwater live webcam can show us many surprises. Ocean Networks Canada has a webcam 75 feet under the sea, keeping an eye on the Folger Pinnacle Reef off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The only light available most of the time is what filters down from the surface, but at night, the researchers controlling the reef cam turn on underwater lights for five minutes out of every hour for your viewing pleasure. It’s hard to tell from a screenshot, but things are constantly moving in the live stream. Currently, the camera is a little dirty; divers periodically clean and service the camera. It sits on a platform with a number of scientific instruments that allow the researchers to monitor the area, which is a rockfish conservation zone.
A pair of bald eagles selected a tulip poplar tree at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., to build their nest in 2014 and have been using it ever since. The eagles are named Mr. President and The First Lady. The American Eagle Foundation has two cameras trained on the nest, and this year’s eaglets hatched on March 18 and March 20. The juvenile eagles are starting to look like adults, although they haven't yet sprouted the white feathers on their heads that will made them recognizable as the animal on the great seal.
8. GIANT PANDAS
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., is home to four giant pandas: Tian Tian, an adult male; Bao Bao, a juvenile female; and the stars of the show, Mei Xiang and her baby, Bei Bei, born last August. There are two panda cams following Mei and Bei Bei, one trained on the outdoor habitat and the other covering the interior; the screenshot above shows Bei Bei enjoying his lunch. When your time zone doesn’t coincide with Mei Xiang and Bei Bei's schedule, you can check out Gao Gao, Bai Yun, and Xiao Liwu on the San Diego Zoo's panda cam.
9. AFRICAN WILDLIFE
Pete’s Pond is a watering hole at Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. There’s a webcam trained on Pete’s Pond 24 hours a day, with camera operators ready to focus in on visiting animals. Elephants, monitor lizards, and baboons are all regular visitors; we tuned in just in time to see a giraffe ready for a drink.
10. PACIFIC WALRUSES
This webcam is trained on Round Island, one of Alaska's four major terrestrial "haulouts"—areas where, in the spring, male Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) haul themselves out of the water for a few days at a time between feedings. Round Island is one of seven islands that make up the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary; 14,000 walruses have been spotted on Round Island on a single day.