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15 best places to waste your time on the web > II June 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet.

10. Rotten Tomatoes
Of all the movie review roundup sites, Rotten Tomatoes has the largest variety, often featuring hundreds of links to reviews for any film. Every movie also gets a discussion board (they’re frequently packed), plus stills, trailers, and box office info. A recent update to the site even rolled out Rotten Tomatoes-hosted blogs to anyone who wants one. A visit to Rotten Tomatoes can eat up an entire afternoon or more. If you’re passionate about movies, and your information needs go beyond what can be found in the credits, see our number 4 pick.


9. RuneScape
At press time, Runescape had been in the Lycos 50 for 19 weeks, outranking Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and even Christmas. Launched in 2004, RuneScape is inarguably the Web’s most popular browser-based MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). It features nearly 10 million members, most of whom play the game in its free incarnation. Gameplay is familiar: Point and click to run around, kill stuff, collect gold, and complete quests. Learning the game is easy. Mastering it can take months…which is precisely why it’s on the list. For a more sarcastic, low-tech take on the online RPG, check out Kingdom of Loathing.

8. Classic ’80s Arcade Games
If you have the kind of job where you can get away with playing Pac-Man without raising eyebrows, well, more power to you. You’ll definitely want to take a spin at TripletsAndUs, Miniclip, and UltimateArcade, which recreate ’80s classics in Java and Flash, and offer copious arcade interpretations of their own as well. Of course, these sites are just the beginning of free online gaming. If you can’t find a new Web-based game to play every day of the week, you aren’t spending enough time at our number 3 and 6 picks.


7. Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D Beta
Microsoft recently added some pretty impressive 3D capabilities to its existing Live Search Maps service: You’re now able to bring up a virtual globe view, akin to Google’s Virtual Earth application, and idle away the time zooming about the world.

At the time of this writing, the service also included amazing 3D models of 15 U.S. cities including San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, and Fort Worth. Unlike Google Earth, the Virtual Earth 3D Beta can operate within your Web browser, though it does require a 5MB plug-in, Windows XP SP2, and Internet Explorer 6 or 7.

Microsoft is also showcasing other mapping ideas. For instance, a Virtual Earth technology preview lets you drag a car around the streets of San Francisco or Seattle and see a street-level photographic view. There’s also the remarkable Microsoft Photosynth Tech Preview, which aims to take different people’s photos of the same place or object and reconstruct them in three-dimensional space.

6. Reddit.com
Aggregated news arrives with a simple premise: Users submit worthwhile news stories, and the site as a whole votes on whether the story should be promoted to the home page, where it will be seen by millions. The exact mechanism varies from site to site, but top destinations like Digg, del.icio.us, Netscape, Slashdot.org and Reddit all push an exhaustive amount of news every day. For a serious fix, skip the home page and check out the “new” or “upcoming stories.”

See our “Web News Wranglers” story for a closer look at Digg vs. Reddit.

5. Flickr.com
Sure, you can waste a good amount of time flipping through your own old pictures and those of your friends on this photo-sharing site, but it’s Flickr’s public photos that can really eat up the afternoon. Start by searching for oddball keywords (“gibbon,” “latex,” “lohan”), or just bookmark the most recent updates page to get an all new set of thumbnails with each refresh. Writing amusing captions for random Flickr photos is also a popular blogger pastime.

See our write-up on the “New, Improved Web” for more information on emerging collaboration and community sites.

4. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB)
It all starts with an innocuous question. Say: “What was that movie that the new guy playing James Bond was in?” But once you’ve rediscovered Layer Cake, you’re clicking through to costar Sienna Miller, and remembering that she’s Jude Law’s ex and learning about his upcoming films for the next two years, and who he’s starring with…And so it goes. At IMDB, it’s all too easy to get lost in this “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” research. When you burn out on movies, head over to The All Music Guide, which offers similar data for all things audio.

3. Fark.com
As the site says, it’s not news, it’s Fark.com. For the absolute best online oddities, strange news reports, and random links to the Internet’s most absurd sites, Fark has you covered, to the tune of some 100 links a day, each with its own snarky discussion board. All links are user submitted, and moderators filter through the chaff, posting only the best on the front page. If that’s not enough for you, spend the five bucks a month for a TotalFark.com subscription, which gives you complete access to every single submission the site gets, roughly 2000 links a day. If you spent a minute per link, you’d actually need nine extra hours each day to get through it all.


2. Craigslist.org
Is there another place where you can get a job, find an apartment, meet your future spouse, and sell your old dinette set, all on one URL? Despite expanding across the globe (there’s even a Craigslist Panama), the venerable Craigslist still maintains its all-text design, which can actually work to the advantage of surfing-from-work scofflaws.

Craigslist is at its hysterical best when it’s completely frivolous: The missed connections, where posters anonymously yearn for the cute girl they couldn’t get up the nerve to talk to, and Best of Craigslist sections are hypnotically awesome. For more Craiglist fun, check out this custom search engine and photo viewer.


1. YouTube
Look, a dude dancing funny! Look, a guy falling off a ladder! Look, a kitty falling asleep! YouTube may have lost some of its magic since lonelygirl15 was revealed to be a fraud, and new owners Google started deleting all of the bootlegged sitcoms and Japanese game shows, but it’s still an almost overwhelming way to waste hours and hours. If that’s not enough, check out Revver, Ebaumsworld, Bored.com, and ifilm–all of which cater, in various degrees, to showing videos of people getting hit in the crotch and girls dancing in their underwear. Hey, Mentos and Diet Coke!

Honorable Places of Procrastination

The “Google-verse”
We considered including a number of Google’s services in our list, but they’ve become ubiquitous, so where’s the fun in that? The company’s standout browser-based time wasters continue to be image search and Google Groups, but just keeping track of the company’s services is a good way in itself to lose time.


Subservient Everything
In 2004, Burger King launched Subservient Chicken, an utterly mind-numbing yet addictive site, featuring Webcam-like video of a man dressed in a chicken suit and wearing a garter belt. The idea: You type in commands, and he’ll do what you say, within reason. Subservient Chicken responds to roughly 300 unique commands and spawned what must be an equal number of tribute and parody sites, including a Subservient President, Donald Trump, and sexy bartenders, all ready to do thy virtual bidding.

Everyday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants patents for some pretty oddball ideas and inventions. And every day, Patentlysilly.com gives us a humorous take on the best of them. Yes, they’re all real patents.

Complete List of the 15 Best Places to Waste Time

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