Exams, browsers, and the Outernet

Going slightly stir crazy, trying to write exam questions. I can never understand why it’s so hard … it ought to be easy, but it ain’t. There is a real motivational barrier. Every so often yer hasster take a break.

So what does an astrogeek do for relaxation ? Why, of course, roam the Internut and find free software to try out. Recently I have been systematically test driving web browsers. At the end of the day, I stick with Firefox because its the only thing that works with Zotero and (reliably) with Tiddlywiki, both of which I use every day, but I have checked out Safari, SeamonkeyCamino, Chrome, Opera, Flock, and Konqueror (on my Ubuntu VM). They are all pretty much of a muchness. Flock is trendy and slightly different because it has built in social networking stuff, but hey, I will leave that to the kids, like Eric. Amaya is also somewhat different – its a web authoring tool, but you can use it as a browser.

But at last I found something different, and fun : Outernet Explorer. This is a web browser written by an artist called Gregor Wright. No need to think. Just press Go. The app generates a random search phrase, bungs it into Bing, and you get what you get. Surprises await. Hours of random fun. Love it.

Possibly even better is the Dream Generator. Last night you dreamed that … you were vomiting on an ambulance in a zoo. Last night you dreamed that … a drunk architect was biting you. Last night you dreamed that … a zebra was running away from you in an empty warehouse. Last night you dreamed that … a gang of angry astronomers evaporated.

Nearly as good as Weirdsville. Regular readers may also remember Tom Collins’ stochastic music website, which Steve Serjeant put us on to. Further aleatoric contributions welcome, short of whole novels. I did try to read The Naked Lunch, but I think I concluded random is best in short bursts.

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3 Responses to Exams, browsers, and the Outernet

  1. “At the end of the day, I stick with Firefox because its the only thing that works with Zotero and (reliably) with Tiddlywiki, both of which I use every day, but I have checked out Safari, Seamonkey, Camino, Chrome, Opera, Flock, and Konqueror (on my Ubuntu VM). They are all pretty much of a muchness.”

    “Anyone who slaps a ‘this page is best viewed with Browser X’ label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network.”
    — Tim Berners-Lee in Technology Review, July 1996

    ’nuff said.

  2. andyxl says:

    Phillip – this is a fair criticism of Tiddlywiki but not of Zotero. Zotero is a Firefox plugin, not a web page. Its really an application, but it happens to bootstrap off Firefox as it were. Tiddlywiki on the other hand is just a file with javascript and content merged together, and should work with anything. Reading-wise it does, but when you try to save something you have written, Safari throws up an error. Its a bug. There’s stuff on the tiddlywiki site about this, but I still couldn’t make it work.

  3. andyxl says:

    Hang on, just actually checked and latest version of Safari is ok with Tiddlywiki. Opera is fine too. But Chrome still doesn’t work.

    But yes, Zotero is effectively locking me in to Firefox

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