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14 Web Toys to Fill Your Day

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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Facebook Just Made It Easier to Tell the Difference Between Fake News and Real Reporting
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On Facebook, fake news stories "reporting" international conflicts over Toblerones can appear alongside fact-checked journalism from trustworthy outlets. This leads to some bogus stories racking up thousands of shares while real news stories are deemed "fake" by those who disagree with them. With its latest news feature, Facebook aims to make the distinction between factual and fictional posts clearer.

As The Verge reports, articles shared on Facebook will now display a "trust indicator" icon. Clicking on it reveals information about the publisher of the piece, including their ethics statement, corrections policy, fact-checking process, ownership structures, and masthead. By providing that context, Facebook hopes that more users will make better decisions about which news outlets to trust and which to disregard.

The social media network is launching the feature with a handful of publishers and plans to open it up to more down the road. But unless it becomes mandatory for all media pages, it won't be the end of Facebook's fake news problem: Phony sites and real publishers that leave this information blank will still look the same in the eyes of some readers. Additionally, the feature only works when people go out of their way to check it, so it requires users to be skeptical in the first place.

If you want to avoid the fake news in your feed, looking for trust indicators is a good place to start. To further sharpen your BS-detecting skills, try adopting the CRAAP system: The American Library Association has been using it to spot sketchy sources since before the Facebook era.

[h/t The Verge]

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Live Smarter
How to Stop Instagram Photos From Automatically Posting to Facebook
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If you have Instagram photos you don’t mind sharing with your aunts, exes, and former high school classmates, Facebook is the perfect place to post them. But some pictures are better suited to more intimate audiences: For those scenarios, you’ll want to unlink your Facebook from your Instagram account. The Daily Dot put together a simple how-to guide.

To keep your Instagram photos from automatically showing up on your Facebook profile, head to the Instagram app. Go to your profile, tap the gear icon next to Edit Profile, and then scroll down to the Linked Accounts option under Settings. If every photo you share through Instagram is published on Facebook, you should see Facebook highlighted in blue with a checkmark next to it under Linked Accounts. After tapping this, hit the Unlink Facebook button and Unlink a second time when the app asks you to confirm your decision.

Once that’s taken care of, any new posts you share through Instagram will only be seen by your Instagram followers (unless your account is linked to Twitter or some other social media site, in which case you can follow the same steps above). To undo this action, just return to Linked Accounts and tap Facebook to join the two accounts again.

This is a smart way to limit your social media presence or curb potential damage if hackers ever access your Instagram. But if you’re looking to distance yourself from Facebook because of issues you have with the site itself, simply unlinking it from Instagram won’t cut it. Facebook owns Instagram, so any information you post to either profile goes to the same place. There are better ways to control how Facebook handles your personal data. Read this to learn more about the social media giant’s ad targeting practices and what you can do about them.

[h/t The Daily Dot]

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