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14 Web Toys to Fill Your Day

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No matter whether you stay on the internet all day working or log on to catch up on the news, it’s always nice to take a left turn for a mindless break for something different. Here are 14 more places you can go to do that.

1. Endless Interestingness

The screen fills up with hundreds of thumbnails. This is Endless Interestingness, a collage of Flickr photos. Click on any of them to go to the photo page. The photos open in new windows so you can easily go back and click another.

2. Into Time

Rafaël Rozendaal presents Into Time, a plain-looking colored screen with a gradient. But click on it, and it subdivides. How many times can you subdivide? Until you run out of patience or have to break away and do something else.

3. People in Pizza Slice Costumes Becoming Pizza

This is a toy that takes longer to say than to generate, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. A person wearing a pizza slice costume turns into a pizza by a kaleidoscope effect. That’s it. You can click to get a different person. My favorite is the baby bunting.

4. Clean Your Window

The little dog will clean your window as long as you let him. He’ll go on for days if allowed.

5. Leekspin

Leekspin is a looping animation featuring the 2006 meme Loituma Girl. The song is "Ievan Polkka" by the Finnish group Loituma. The video is a clip from the anime Bleach featuring the character Orihime spinning a leek. Why did this become such an internet hit? Because it was amusing, and the standards for “amusing” on the internet were a lot lower in 2006.

6. Man In The Dark

Man In The Dark is a classic web toy that’s been around for ten years now, and has been imitated and cloned in numerous versions. A human form is suspended in the dark, and you can drag him around by the top of his head with your cursor. Simple, but still mesmerizing.

7. Sprite198

Sprite 198 is an example of another iteration of Man in the Dark using an orca.

8. Neon Flames

Neon Flames is a drawing toy that generates wispy shapes that resemble flames or distant astronomical nebulae. You can select a color, and control the generation by holding your mouse button down. Open the control panel on the right to change parameters for a variety of effects.

9. Patatap

The screen shots above don’t do justice to the web toy Patatap, because the images fade too quickly to capture at their best. Just load Patatap, and start pushing letter keys. You’ll hear sounds and see colors and shapes and flashing effects. The space key will change the color scheme. Even your cat can play! With a little practice and experimenting, you just might become a virtuoso and create something spectacular.

10. No Moving

No Moving is some type of Coca Cola ad, but that’s minor compared to the visual adventure. The idea is that you are supposed to stay very still and keep staring at the red dot. Forget that, when it asks for access to your webcam, just deny it. You will still be taken on the journey. However, if you move your mouse or click, the visuals will be over, and you’ll have to start the slow journey again from the beginning. The easiest way I found to see it was to leave my browser alone and type on a document while this played in the background. It goes for a few minutes, and of course, you’ll be shown a bottle of Coke at the end.

11. Burgers

Burgers is a page full of hamburgers, with a few chicken and fish sandwiches thrown in for variety. Mouseover to multiply them, and click to take a bite! This web toy was conceived and built by artist Guthrie Lonergan.

12. Listen to Wikipedia

The music generated at the site Listen to Wikipedia may sound random at first, but what you're hearing is real data. Wikipedia has a feed that records recent changes, which generate tones and colors. Bells indicate information added, and strings indicate subtractions. Small edits produce high-pitched tones and small circles, while larger edits produce deeper tones and larger circles. Colors indicate who the edits come from. When a new user joins Wikipedia, you’ll hear an orchestra swell. Altogether, it’s impressive how much is going on behind the scenes at Wikipedia, no matter what time of day it is. It may be soothing music, but you might also be sucked into the thrill of watching the encyclopedia of the internet being built in real time.

13. Zombo.com

Although not technically a toy, Zombo.com deserves a mention if only for its longevity. It was created in 1999 as a parody of annoying and unnecessary Flash introductory pages for websites. The design makes it appear to be loading, but nothing is happening. A voice assures you that your wait is worth it, but it takes quite some time to load any options. One option finally loads, but even after 15 years, it is not ready. The next time you are perturbed by introductory splashes or links that stay under construction for years, remember they cannot hold a candle to Zombo.com.

14. Tone Matrix

You can create some really nice music at Tone Matrix without any musical skills at all. Click the squares to design patterns that play music. I prefer to leave the first and last columns blank to frame a musical phrase. Gradually adding and removing tones makes for a nice beginning and ending to your musical interlude.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions! See also: 17 Web Toys for Your Procrastination Pleasure and 11 Web Toys and Generators to Waste Your Time.

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Animals
Australia Zoo Is Taking Name Suggestions for Its Newborn White Koala
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A koala with striking white fur was recently born at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, and she already has an adoring fan base. Now all she needs is a name. As Mashable reports, the zoo is calling on the public for suggestions on what to call the exceptional joey.

The baby, who is one of several newborn koalas living at the zoo, climbed out of her mother’s pouch for the first time not too long ago. When she made her public debut, she revealed a coat of white fur rarely seen in her species. According to the zoo, the koala isn’t albino. Rather, she got her pale shade from a recessive gene inherited from her mother known as a “silvering gene.” Though the light coloration is currently the koala’s defining feature, there’s a good chance she’ll eventually grow out of it and take on the gray-and-white look that’s typical for her species.

For now, the Australia Zoo is celebrating the birth of its first-ever white koala joey by getting the public involved in the naming process. On the post announcing the zoo’s new arrival, commenters have so far suggested Pearl, Snowy, Luna, and Kao (from the Thai word for “white”) as names to match the baby’s immaculate appearance. There are also a few pop culture-related proposals, including Olaf after the character in Frozen and Daenerys in honor of Game of Thrones.

Instead of deciding the koala’s name by popular vote, the zoo will select the winner from their favorite submissions. And with nearly 5000 comments on the original Facebook post to choose from, the joey will hopefully have better luck than the animals named by the public before her. (The Koalay McKoala Face does have a certain ring to it.)

[h/t Mashable]

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Live Smarter
Computer Users, Rejoice: You're Finally Allowed to Create Easy-to-Remember Passwords
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To keep your personal data secure, it’s important to craft a strong password—and for nearly 15 years, savvy computer users have heeded the counsel of Bill Burr, the man who quite literally wrote the book on password management. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that Burr has admitted that some of his advice was flawed. While working as a manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2003, Burr wrote a primer—officially known as “NIST Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A”—that instructed federal workers to create codes using obscure characters, a mix of lowercase and capital letters, and numbers. For security purposes, he also recommended changing passwords on a regular basis. At the time, however, Burr didn’t have a ton of data to rely on, so he ended up using a paper published in the mid-1980s as a primary source for the manual. Burr’s primer eventually became widely used among federal workers, corporate companies, websites, and tech companies alike. But in hindsight, experts say that Burr’s directives didn’t actually improve cybersecurity: The NIST recently gave his primer received a full overhaul, and they opted to eliminate the now-famous rules about using special characters and switching up codes. These rules “actually had a negative impact on usability,” Paul Grassi, the NIST standards-and-technology adviser who led Special Publication 800-63’s rewrite, told The Wall Street Journal. They make it harder to remember and type in codes, plus those parties who did change their passwords every 90 days typically only made minor, easy-to-guess alterations. Plus, research now shows that longer passwords—a series of around four words—are ultimately harder to crack than shorter combinations of letters, characters, or numbers. (And at the end of the day, computer users ended up paradoxically choosing the same “random” passwords used by millions of others.) The NIST now recommends long, easy-to-remember passwords (not the “#!%”-filled ones of yesteryear) and for people to switch codes only if they suspect that their existing one has been stolen. In short, it's probably time to change your password—and this time around, you might even have an easier time remembering it.

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