Exams, browsers, and the Outernet

March 12, 2010

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.