After Hours

Entertaining Web sites for the Y2K countdown

Stuck at work watching the clock tick on New Year's Eve—just in case? We've assembled a list of a few entertaining Web sites to keep you busy until the stroke of midnight.

When the clock ticks down the millennium and friends and family drink themselves silly with celebratory libations, many IT managers will find themselves held hostage at their places of employment—just in case.

If you’re going to be stuck at work New Year’s Eve, it’s not likely much work is actually going to get done. (No, really.) The real burden for you will be in the waiting.

So to help you keep a sense of humor about the situation and provide a little diversion, our staff surfed the Web and found a few…um…interesting and unique sites that should keep your mind off Armageddon until the clock strikes midnight. (Kind of makes you feel like Cinderella without a pumpkin coach, doesn’t it?)

Anagrams anyone?
Anagrams are words made out of the transposition of letters in other words. For example, if you change around the letters of Microsoft you get ‘Cost From I.’ (Hmm—that could be a whole other article.) At Wordsmith.org you can access the Internet Anagram Server. It is particularly entertaining to put in your company name to see if there are any creative results.

Fighting world hunger
If your tastes run to more philanthropic interests, thehungersite.com is a good place to go to help starving children around the world. The site works through a set of sponsors who agree to pay for their advertising in food donations rather than money. The more traffic the site receives (and the more eyeballs for the advertisers) the more food the advertisers donate. At our last visit the sponsors included Games2Learn.com, Blue Mountain Arts, and Sprint. It’s a good place to go just to reassure yourself that the Web can be used for more than just simple e-capitalism.

Are you feeling mortal?
If you’re pretty sure you’re living a healthy lifestyle and expect to collect on that social security (providing that it’s still around), you might want to take the DeathTest . You enter some basic stats about your yourself such as age, height, and weight, and then go through a series of questions about what you do and don’t do in the area of lifestyle. Be forewarned: there are a lot of questions, and some of them are pretty personal—and strange. After all is said and done, the test will calculate your life expectancy and the odds of what will kill you. Well, it could make for interesting dinner conversation.

Trekkies only
No list of interesting Web sites would be complete without including something for the Star Trek generation. StarTrek.com offers enthusiasts a large variety of Star Trek areas to chose from, including the Star Trek store that sells action figures of your favorite star, a Star Trek sweepstakes, and downloads of Star Trek cursors for your computer.

Calling all dumb criminals
Crimeweek.com is a Web site that likes to examine the more unusual side of the crimes that you and I see in the daily news. The site includes a Lawsuit of the Week feature as well as crimes committed by criminals classified as “Too Dumb to Live.” The Lawsuit of the Week includes some doozies, including a Zambian suit in which a man dared his wife to cheat on him to prove she wasn’t infertile. The judge has given the woman until Feb. 22 to have her fling.

This site covers all types of lawsuits. For example, did you know that the parents of Dylan Klebold, the teenager responsible for the Columbine killing rampage in Littleton, CO, are suing the Sheriff’s Department, claiming the department knew of their son’s violent tendencies and did nothing about it. Both public and legal opinion seems to doubt the validity of the parents’ case.

APBnews.com is site for those who just can’t get enough of scanner stories. The year-old Web site includes profiles of criminal justice professionals, celebrity crime coverage, as well as APB Crime Solvers. APBnews mixes original crime coverage with syndicated news coverage from other sources. (For example, the site links to MSNBC for top stories.) The site also includes an ABPnewscenter that covers such diverse items as major cases, Internet crime and missing persons.

Backyard bathroom humor
If you had wanted to send the unique gift of dog poop to someone who is extra special, you’ll have to wait. DogDoo.com is reporting that they’re back ordered through the new millennium. Yes, Virginia, there is a Web site where you can order three different sizes of dog poop for your favorite chump. The site also offers a variety of mugs and t-shirts to carry on this particular organic theme. And just in case you’re wondering, DogDoo.com says that its dog poop is certified Y2K compliant.

And to continue the bathroom theme made most memorable by South Park’s Mr. Hanky’s Christmas Special, don’t forget to visit Doodie.com . While this site isn’t for everyone (there’s a lot of grunting and groaning), former Simpson’s animator Tom Winkler carries on the tradition of taking potty humor to new Web heights. One staff reviewer here at TechRepublic wrote, “It is sometimes dumb, sometimes hilarious, and always pretty disgusting.”

On the more practical side of bathroom humor, ever had to remove dog urine from carpet? Well, now there’s a Web site to help you remove that unsightly stain. Planeturine.com offers consumers advice for removing cat and dog urine from clothing and other materials such as carpets. The site also offers a section on products that help clean up after Fido’s accident, advice on how to train Fido from repeating this behavior, and links to other pet sites.

A persecuted minority
Who would have thought that there is a universal character that amateur animators just love to kill—violently. No, it’s not Kenny from South Park. It’s Stick FigureDeath Theater . Creating very simple yet violent vignettes of the poor old stick figure buying the farm seems to be a new trend among animators. Here you can see short, five- to seven-second movies depicting death by crushing, explosion, and high-speed impact.

If you think Stick Figure Death Theater is limited to just the sick minds of the U.S., think again. This new form of entertainment is worldwide. The Surrey Stick Figure Theater of Death is the United Kingdom’s answer to this new phenomenon. These vignettes have such classical titles as the Battle of Hastings, Death in Venice, The Witch, and Hamlet.

And if you haven’t had enough of torturing these little innocent stick figures, there’s Le Théâtre du Bâton Figure . Yes, that is the French version of ”Stick Figure.” Here you can see such hits as The Vampire, Easter Island, and Singing in the Rain. (We won’t give away the plot but it includes a lot of rain, a flood, and a giant squid!)

It is no wonder that a site would be created in stark contrast to this kind of violent entertainment. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Stick Figures explores more sedate deaths. It Was His Time, Heart Attack and Goodnight Grampa are samples of stick figures going the natural way.

Pokemon must die!
Parents, don’t show this to your kids, who could be emotionally scarred for life by this Web site. MustBeDestroyed.com is devoted to hideous ways to kill Pikachu, the electricity-eating little yellow bunny-like Pokemon character. Here you can watch short videos of Pikachu getting run over by a car, being used as a golf ball, being attacked by a dog, and being flushed down the toilet.

If you stay busy checking out all these sites, hopefully New Year’s Eve will come and go with hardly a notice. Now, aren’t you glad you’ve spent this time doing something constructive like killing stick figures or making anagrams out of your company’s name? We thought so.

Joan Harvey is editor for the CIOCommunity at TechRepublic. She will probably be spending her New Year’s Eve battling her husband for the Dreamcast.

Tell us what other great sites you’ve found to while away your New Year’s Eve by posting a comment below. If you have any story ideas you’d like to share, please drop us a note .
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