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April 26, 2007

Internet time-wasters
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:08 PM * 59 comments

Because the day is so long, and there’s so much Internet!

Boomshine
A simple Flash game about epidemiology, with pretty graphics and music. Click to make an explosion; when the explosion hits a dot, the dot explodes. You’re trying to make chain reactions. (Discovered via Cthulhia)

Acrobots
No, not the magnetic toys. This is an addictive little physics simulation. Those little units are three-legged acrobats. They have inertial and gravitational mass (the slider control on the right changes the gravity), springy legs, and magnetic hands/feet. Add acrobots, subtract them, toss them around, see what happens. I like putting 15-20 of them in there, maximizing the gravity till they all slump down, then minimizing the gravity and seeing them leap and toss each other around.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Kevin Church presents drunk monkeys!

Comments on Internet time-wasters:
#1 ::: Ouish ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:43 AM:

See this collection of virtual Whitney music boxes for an entrancing (I use the word advisedly) lesson in harmonics.

#2 ::: Torie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Re: Boomshine--Whoa that's addictive. Beat it in like five minutes, though. :( Got level 12 on my third try!

#3 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 01:06 AM:

Boomshine, which is my New Favorite Thing, should've been called "Battle of the Venn Diagrams."

#4 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 01:26 AM:

OMG damn you Avram with awesomeness... And damn you little turquoise dot, your charmed life will one day come to an end at the borders of my expanding empire of nothingness! MUAhahaha!

Which is to say, damn, Boomshine is addictive, seconded.

#5 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 01:40 AM:

Drunk. Monkeys.
Drukn. Monkeys.
Drnkd. Mnkeyds!!!!!

#6 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 02:06 AM:

I don't think the control in Acrobots controls gravity. It may control the ratio between inertial and gravitational mass, or it may be something subtle about knee damping.

#7 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 02:12 AM:

Torie, I've made it through all levels, too, but I hear there's a special surprise if you manage to get ALL the bubbles in any one level.

#8 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 03:02 AM:

OK, now it's 3 AM and I have to be at work in five hours. Thanks a stinking bunch.

#9 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 05:10 AM:

yikes! May I recommend one installs the following before going to these pages:

1. PageAddict. Shows you how long you spend on each webpage. If you label pages ("blog" "news" "timesink"), you can put limits on how much time per day spent at each category.

2. LeechBlock: let's you block access to webpages by time and by day. Useful to help stop you from resetting PageAddict's time limits. Also useful for Javascript games, because PageAddict doesn't count those games' minutes.

#10 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 06:26 AM:

I don't know if you're familiar with Visuwords, but it's a fun internet timewaster if you're looking for more of them. It's a web thesaurus and a toy all at the same time.

#11 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 06:33 AM:

Both excellent (and Boomshine with the music enabled is almost hypnotic).

Two more:

Desktop Tower Defense

and

anything by the Eyemaze folks.

#12 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 07:05 AM:

Frozen Bubble is like crack to me. Warning: carpal tunnel hazard.

#13 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 08:59 AM:

I can sense what this thread will become...we are all doomed.

Facade tarot readings
Flickr Color Pickr

#14 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 09:23 AM:

I've always been particularly fond of the Sleepy Echidna game. A friend sent me the link years ago when I was working at a dotcom and I forwarded it to a single coworker; about an hour later I went off to do something and as I walked through the cube farm I heard the distinctive music coming from all around me...

#15 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 09:40 AM:

I second Eyezmaze. Plus anything by Nitrome, Skywire is particularly good.

Also, Jay is Games is good for a lot of these.

#16 ::: Torie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 10:19 AM:

#7 John--You're kidding. Well that's all I needed to hear. See everyone in a few days...

#17 ::: Zzedar ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Andrew is correct; the slider in Acrobots controls the stickiness/elasticity of the bots' feet.

#18 ::: Zzedar ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 10:36 AM:

No, wait, I was wrong in post #17; the slider does do something to gravity, but in reverse of the way one would think it would; moving the slider down turns gravity up.

#19 ::: Gigi Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 10:36 AM:

AS IF I don't have enough Internet time wasters.

I went to your "Particles" last night and was so happy to find the true explanation for Bushisms. The fact that he and his are from another timeline explains so much. Of course I’ve often wondered if I’m not the timeline wanderer since so often I find things in my life different than I remember. Of course nothing is so different that it convinces me that I’m crazy or that I’m truly universe-shifting.
Sexual surrogates for dogs had my son and me in stitches last night. (ROTFL)
Thanks for all the wonderfully clever albeit time wasting links!

#20 ::: janine ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 11:30 AM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale, #9: Thank you!

If only I'd known about those programs earlier in my graduate school career.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Kathryn @ 9... And have you installed those? Or do you have such moral fortitude that no technological safeguards are needed?

#22 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Yes, but how many drunk monkeys are statistically required to type out the works of Chaucer?

#23 ::: Megan Messinger ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 01:35 PM:

Is anyone else having better luck with Boomshine without their glasses on?

#24 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 02:35 PM:

7, 16: I did it! I got all 60 in level 12. Nyy gung unccrarq jnf gur fperra ghearq erq vafgrnq bs terl.

#25 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 03:00 PM:

There are a bunch of good timewasters over on DOFI-Blog. Try Stick Remover, for example.

(I found this via Falling Sand Game, which is also horribly addictive; just as well I've turned Java off in my browser to deal with the recently revealed QuickTime/Java interaction security problem.)

#26 ::: Alex von Thorn ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 04:57 PM:

I have a new swear word: 54!

#27 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 06:49 PM:

TexAnne @ #24: Huzzah!!
Alex van Thorn @ #26: My swear word is 53. Again and again, 53. Grr.

#28 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 07:28 PM:

lazylaces doesn't have the depth of commentary that "Jay Is Games" has and tends to focus on "point-and-click", but I find it very fun.

#29 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 09:43 PM:

TexAnne #24: Did you have your sounds turned off? There was supposed to be something of an aural nature as well. (I don't have any first-hand experience with clearing the board.)

#30 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 10:23 PM:

55 is a pretty cursed thing. Making just the goal in any level is a misery. 54 is almost a relief -- one more chance to try for 60 (although by that time, one has already thrown away any chance of a high score).

I can see there must be some hefty point bonus for clearing a level. Those high scores are more than the total number of circles.

#31 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 10:28 PM:

Arrgh! Desktop tower defense ate up most of my afternoon. I had been going to go work out... but the only thing that got a workout was my mouse finger.

#32 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 11:19 PM:

John: Yes, that must have been after I hit the mute button. Those sound effects were driving me nuts. If only we could combine Boomshine with those mathemagical music boxes!

#33 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 11:21 PM:

Replying to myself--I just cleared level 1, and there was something aurally significant. Back to the muted version!

#34 ::: Spiegel ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2007, 11:32 PM:

Guide the cows.

Neopets has some nice games like Destructomatch. Last I checked it wasn't necessary to register to play.

#35 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 02:20 AM:

Digyourowngrave.com has a games review and links section. Some of the above are there plus plenty of others not mentioned. Plasma Pong looks trippy.

#36 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 03:24 AM:

The group name for high scores in Desktop Tower Defense is Making Light.

#37 ::: Tye ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 03:38 AM:

Avram - what everyone else said about Boomshine. I am ranked for the day! Ranked, I tell you. I have never been ranked at anything before and it only took me until 3:30 am! If no one plays for the next 20 or so hours, it could stand.

#38 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 04:03 AM:

Texanne @ 24 & 33: Nyy gung unccrarq jnf gur fperra ghearq erq vafgrnq bs terl.

Lbh zvffrq frrvat gur ~uhaqerq cbvag obahf??? (Ng yrnfg gung rkcynvaf ubj gur gbc fpberf trg fb uvtu-- gurl zhfg or pyrnevat zhygvcyr yriryf fbzrubj.)

#39 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 04:13 AM:

Oh, and then there's The Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddly Toys. (Don't overuse the electroshock.)

#40 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 07:36 AM:

Julie L.: I didn't play enough to get that thing you mentioned. And not because I have willpower, either! I spent all my time yesterday looking at every single page of icanhascheezburger.com. Gee, thanks, Patrick.

#41 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 09:08 AM:

Bubble bees is an old favorite I hadn't gone back to in a while before seeing this thread. Uh-oh... I remember liking a few other games from that site, too.

#42 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 12:03 PM:

Dwarf Complete

#43 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 07:30 PM:

From the guy who brought you the Flickr Color Pickr Mary Dell linked to above, here's the Flickr Science Fiction Explorer.

#44 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2007, 10:28 PM:

Re 37: Not that either of us is competitive or anything...

#45 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 12:07 AM:

Boomshine is evil, hideous and wrong.

Any game that has you frantically Googling for strategy tips, only to find that the most common advice is "qba'g ybbx ng gur fperra jura lbh pyvpx" ...which you still, obsessively, Skinner rat-like, for hours on end, keep doing... is obviously a ploy of Satan to distract us while he leads his army of minions up from the depths. I expect an infernal knock on my door any minute now. Which I will ignore, 'cause I've gotten 52 on the 12th level five times in a row now, and surely my luck is about to take a turn for the better...

Er, thanks, Avram!

#46 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 01:13 AM:

RedMolly @45,

Here's an article for you from lifehacker: Ban Time Wasting Web Sites.

What browser are you using? It should be Mozilla / Firefox. Much better than IE or Safari, althought the lifehacker article has tips for those. [waits a few]

Here's PageAddict. Measures and/or limits how much time you spend on different types of sites. You set the limits, so that "work research" sites are unlimited but "blogs" are 1 hours a day, say. Useful for learning exactly how much time you're spending and where.

[you discover you can edit the time limits in pageaddict]

Ok, here's LeechBlock, which you set up to limit access to websites by hour and by day. For example, no blogs and no PageAddict before 5pm on weekdays, but no limits on weekends.

[and to answer Serge's question @21]

And then there's the Invisibility Cloak, a greasemonkey script, which makes a site invisible to you until the time you've specified (25 O'clock = not ever).

And they there's changing permissions on the cloak so that owner only has read, not write.

And then... I don't know. Turn off the computer?

As I implied in another thread, there's going to be a book not published next year, filled with all the stories unwritten this year because the authors were too busy trying for a BoomShine.

#47 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 02:20 AM:

Oddly, the only two times I've (more or less accidentally) cleared the screen in Boomshine, they were both on level 12-- the higher density actually makes that easier than staring at level 1 for hours, watching those lousy five balls slooooowly bounce around and hoping for them to finally all bunch up in one place.

My strategy for the higher levels is now to just leave the cursor in the middle and wait until it looks like more balls are bouncing inward than outward. And not to care very much about it :b

#48 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 03:42 AM:

P.S. My comment above about being competitive was supposed to refer to #36, and the Making Light group on Desktop Tower Defense. Who are byeh and Tuwr? Just wondering.

#49 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 07:56 AM:

Boomshine reminds me of a fluffy version of Missile Command. Lots of missiles fraterciding each other...

#50 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Kathryn @ 46: thank you, thank you! Any month in which one has three small and two large article deadlines and in which one is also trying to sell one's house and pack for a cross-country move is a very bad month in which to discover addictive new pastimes of any sort.

#51 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2007, 09:18 PM:

Julie L. @ #39:

Oh, and then there's The Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddly Toys. (Don't overuse the electroshock.)

I love that. I think the snake was my favorite, the poor beastie.

#52 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2007, 12:14 AM:

So you say Boomshine isn't addictive or hypnotic enough any more, and needs more action anyway? Try combining it with an old arcade-style top-scrolling shoot-em-up - it's called Pretty Pretty Bang Bang

#53 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Response I got from a friend I introduced to Boomshine:

FIEND!! FIEND!! FIE *beep* *beep* *beep* ND!!

(Addictive. And not easy. I want a standalone version, because I run on dial-up.)

#55 ::: tony powell ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 09:47 PM:

OnTheJury.com - Online confessions, you're the jury.

Good combo of voyeurism and wanton judgment.

#56 ::: tony powell ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2008, 09:48 PM:

OnTheJury.com - Online confessions, you're the jury.

Good combo of voyeurism and wanton judgment.

#57 ::: Bernard Yeh sees old spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 04:47 AM:

#55 and #56, old spam that was missed some time ago.

#58 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 06:23 AM:

Which reminds, me, there's now The Last Stand 2. Tougher zombies, you move between locations, generally more interesting game play. It's available in several places, but only at the Armor Games site do you have access to the location "Fort Tran" (gettit?) which features some really cool weapons to use. Having 6 running zombies come on screen all at once, and blasting them all to pieces with a single well-placed RPG -- that's entertainment.

#59 ::: Gabrielle ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2009, 01:55 PM:

Well, that's why it was made anyways.

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