Links to Stuff

Yes, I know that many of the links here are dead. They have been intentionally left here as historical fodder. If I don't remind you that in 1997, Tom Peeblepottins had a website which consisted entirely of the word "poop", then who will? (Please note that this is a fictional, hypothetical website used to illustrate a point, and that in fact, to the best of my knowledge, there was no person named Tom Peeblepottins who, in 1997, maintained a website which consisted entirely of the word "poop". You understand what I mean, I hope.)

Stuff from people I know (I actually know some people. Shocking!)

Mike has been a good friend of mine for some time now. Alas, this Kentucky resident (who needs to make his talents available in the Santa Clara area) has deleted ICQ and IRC, and in fact he disappeared from the Internet for a few years. He's had several websites, all of which eventually disappeared into the ether, and for some time it seemed that he had vanished entirely. He has finally re-surfaced with another small, experimental website that, as of this writing, is still being renovated, but which shows promise, just like the man himself.

Mie is a poet, a painter (artistic, not industrial), and an all-around nice woman from Japan who I talk to now and then... Her site's in Japanese, but the graphical content transcends the boundaries of language. (UPDATE: Mie's old site, which contained several of her paintings, has been dropped along with the web host it was on. She is still painting and intends to create another site eventally with her works on it, but no word on when that will be. I wish the best of luck to her and her talents. Congratulations to Mie on moving to Southern California! Apparently she understands that California is the only correct place in the world to live.)

The Official Majikland Website. In the 905 (Toronto-area, excluding metropolitan area) area code, there used to be a BBS called Majikland. It was one of the last major H/P boards in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA, not to be confused with Grand Theft Auto). (And yes, I was a user on this BBS.) However, alas, Majikland The BBS is no more, and has been succeeded by Majikland The Website, which is basically a big hub page for all the pages maintained by shufler, the ex-sysop for the BBS. shufler is apparently branching out, as he has recently started an online comic strip called "User Homiez", which is... No, wait, it's just called Homiez. Sorry. Anyway, it's about a white guy and a black guy. Also check out shufler's Domain, the obligatory "about me" page, and of course, a grand old classic, Sam The Goat, the nearly-epic collection of stories about a goat named Sam who seems to have an unlimited capacity for death. More recently, shufler has branched off in other directions, including getting his own domain name (which, currently, consists mainly of a link to his LiveJournal and some pictures of him gazing wistfully off into the distance) and maintaining the aforementioned LiveJournal, linked to from the also-aforementioned website.

Stuff from people who I don't know

losers.org supplies you with the online losers you need!

User Friendly is an online comic strip, full of computer humor which no normal person will understand but which techies will probably find funny. Another good online techno comic strip (this seems like it's starting to be a trend) is Helen, Sweetheart Of The Internet, drawn by Peter Zale and full of dark humor, like the title character repeatedly making advances toward a man 3 times older than her. :)

www.pcmechanic.com and www.pcguide.com are excellent sources for all sorts of PC info.

Tom's Hardware and Dan's Data are among the Web's premier sites for hardware reviews. Personally I look at the specs when I buy hardware and don't really care too much about manufacturer/model, but if you just want a quick recommendation or review on some specific models, these are good places to go.

Street Tech: Hardware beyond the hype is another hardware review site that aims to review the most interesting or revolutionary in personal technology gadgets, from computers to virtual-reality equipment and beyond. Although it seems like just another hardware review site at first glance, the focus on somewhat unusual but genuinely useful items elevates this site a little above the average.

www.happypuppy.com is a great site for all kinds of electronic games.

The Fun Zone has an ample collection of some good old DOS shareware games.

Superbad is a website without any purpose other than to be as bizarre as a website could possibly be. It's mostly a lot of weird artwork pages, linked to each other. Each page has several links to several other pages, so you could spend quite a bit of time going around in circles. There's something faintly depressing or perhaps disturbing about the site, owing to the disjointed sentence fragments and graphics which don't make much sense. Nonetheless, navigating through it is a fairly interesting experience. The site changes a lot (apparently every day), so you can go back and keep seeing what gets added.

monkey.org is another of those websites which is deliberately difficult to understand and navigate. However, this is an impressively large site, loaded with quite an extensive amount of links, information, and pictures. (I personally liked the shots which some guy took from a lot of Comdex-style tech events.) You could probably spend a while here trying to find stuff.

E2 (Everything 2) is an interesting mix of two basic types of websites: The plain web dictionary, and the user discussion board. Although E2 is essentially a web dictionary, what makes it different is that the definitions are written by the *users*. Each entry can have several postings, so people are free to add their own information and nuances to the definition of a word as they see fit. People are also free to create new entries. Of course, people, in their infinite creativeness, don't just create single-word entries; There are plenty of "phrase" entries as well. Although a lot of it is extremely silly and irrelevant, E2 is a great concept that has worked out well, leading to a fascinating website full of user-supplied information, anecdotes, and humor. This link to E2 remains first in this paragraph simply because it was the first site of its kind that I found. However, since then, Wikipedia has become nothing less than a cultural phenomenon, rapidly growing in both content and traffic to become one of the most-visited sites anywhere on the web. Wikipedia is a much more "serious" site than E2, endeavoring to be an actual encyclopedia rather than a loose community of dogmatic users, and the result is that Wikipedia is probably a better choice for almost any kind of authoritative research. The nice thing about Wikipedia is that it's open for anyone to edit as they please, allowing for a truly accessible encyclopedia that not only allows for well-informed editing (because authorities on any subject are encouraged to contribute, and erroneous information is usually caught and removed within a reasonable amount of time), but also encourages participation from everyone, in stark contrast to E2's occasionally fascistic editing policies (basically, on E2, any site admin has the full right to censor or remove anything they believe should not be on the site, and on some memorable occasions, they have used this ability). Wikipedia, in contrast, has well-defined editing policies and a dedicated community which, together, usually work pretty well at making sure that information remains both correct and neutral. Of course, since any part of Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at anytime, you shouldn't rely on every piece of information in it to be completely true (so you should do some basic fact checking before you reach any conclusion), but it's still arguably the best information repository available on any single website. A third website is worth mentioning alongside these two, which forms a sort of hybrid that combines good qualities of both E2 and Wikipedia: Urban Dictionary. The nice thing about UD is that almost any word or expression is up for the posting, regardless of how accurate it might actually be; this allows it to be remarkably up-to-date, often being the best place to look up new slang words before they enter common parlance. This is in stark contrast to Wikipedia, where articles are often deleted for being "non-notable"; it takes a while before most new entities are "notable" enough for inclusion on Wikipedia, so it tends to lag behind the latest developments in English hipster-speak. Another neat aspect of UD is that, like E2 and unlike Wikipedia, each user's definition actually becomes a separate sub-definition; Wikipedia, by contrast, just has one big article for every entry. The result is that UD is essentially free from censorship, allowing everyone to have their fair shot at providing what they believe are the most relevant definitions for any given entry. The downside, obviously, is that many of the definitions provided can be (and often are) wildly inaccurate. Take some of the entries on UD with a grain of salt. So with these great research sites available, where do you turn when you want to look something up? For serious encyclopedic research, there's undoubtably no better place than Wikipedia. Urban Dictionary is a better place if you just want a quick definition of some non-standard slang word, while E2 provides a sort of compromise between the two, a place where serious discourse meets with strong opinions.

On a similar note, MathWorld is a staggeringly large encyclopedia of mathematics information; it's not user-editable like Wikipedia or Everything2, but it contains definitions on just about any math concept imaginable. Interestingly and appropriately, it's maintained by Wolfram Research, Inc., the company that makes the famed Mathematica computer math software package.

Continuing the theme of reference resources: Have you ever wanted to look up the etymology of a phrase? A full-scale conventional dictionary will include definitions of idioms and figures of speech, and it will include the etymology of words, but it won't include an etymology for phrases; for example, with a dictionary, you could learn where the word "cat" came from, or what the expression "let the cat out of the bag" means, but you couldn't learn where that expression came from. phrases.org.uk is a site that aims to fix this by tracing the roots of English figures of speech. There's some fascinating history to be found on this site, especially if you're a linguistics person, but even if you're not, almost everybody can find something that'll interest them here.

Going back to math for a bit: Perhaps the most frustrating thing about studying post-secondary math (certainly the thing that made it most difficult for me to learn it) is the abstractness and seeming lack of applicability of most of it. Calculus instructors and textbooks futilely try to talk about "applications of calculus" by telling you that you can use calculus to calculate (for example) the height of a tree by the length of its shadow or how quickly liquid will drain from a cone-shaped tank. Well, I don't know about you, but I can honestly say there's never been a single time in my life when I've needed to do either of those things, so the fact that you can "apply" calculus in those ways doesn't make it seem any more useful. The real reason to learn post-secondary math and physics is so you can make incredibly awesome computer programs like the Java applets that Paul Falstad has made. Although Mr. Falstad's website is mostly a bunch of links, the highlight of his site is definitely the Math, Physics, and Engineering Applets section, wherein is gathered an incredible selection of Java applets to illustrate things like wave motion, Fourier transforms, and vector calculus. All of these concepts are graphically illustrated and animated, and the applets provide controls which let you adjust various parameters for each simulation. There's even a megacool electrical circuit simulator which is so good (and includes so many different types of circuits) that it seems like it should be commercial software. Yet all of these applets are not just runnable from the site, they also have all their source code downloadable. Finally, a real reason to go to university. I'll even go on the record and say that these applets constitute the first real use of Java I've ever seen. Of course, these applets could all be made in a real programming language like C as well, but there's recognizable use in having them web-enabled for casual viewing, and they're a bit beyond what you could do with JavaScript or even Perl. Finally, a real reason for Java. Thank you, Mr. Falstad!

www.vegetable.org is the world's largest website.

(UPDATE: vegetable.org is no longer around. However, it used to be a site with no text or any content of any kind, except for this picture. Actually, there are other sites like this around, sites which make you wonder why somebody bothered to register a domain name just for this, like www.fear.com.... There's probably more to sites like these than meets the eye. Most of them probably have sub-pages stored on them, which just aren't linked to from the index page. Oh well.)

If you ever desperately need to feel good about yourself, you can always comfort yourself by knowing that no matter how much of a pathetic loser you are, you have more of a life than the person who created this website.

NiteRyder's Reference Desk is a nice site with some useful references and links. (This guy hangs out in #help on EFnet.)

One of the most-asked questions on IRC help channels (besides "How do I register my channel?" or "How do I register my nick?") is "How do I get a list of IRC channels?" This is actually a good question, since just typing /list will usually get you flooded off the IRC server for excessive bandwidth usage. To deal with this problem, web-based channel lists were created. The web's premier IRC channel list is at www.irchelp.org/irchelp/chanlist. There, you can find lists for all channels on both EFnet and IRCnet.

TechTales.com is a collection of stories sent in from computer support technicians. Some are hilarious, some are odd, but mostly they're pretty funny. TechTales is both entertaining and a sobering reminder of just how unintuitive people can sometimes be, and how often the hardware/software developers have taken technical experience for granted. In a similar vein, but a bit more categorized and less massively mixed, is Computer Stupidities.

Jeffrey Felburg seems to be, judging by his website, one of those oddly earnest guys who somehow hasn't lost his enthusiasm for the computer field despite having been in it for a while. (His website has been up for years.) Although there isn't much on this site, you can see a very jolly picture of Mr. Felburg smiling happily at his computer, a variety of typically silly animated GIFs, and a few links to some standard computer-enthusiast websites. If nothing else, this website will remind you that some people never lose their gusto for something they believe in.

Sometimes, when you're surfing the Web, you'll find a site or a file which immediately fills a void. You just look at it and say "I've been looking for something which does exactly this. Finally I found it!" Now imagine a site with *several* such files. That's exactly what Systems Internals is. It's a site with one of the most amazing utility collections I've seen anywhere. Some of these perform genuinely useful functions which I haven't found on any other program, including being able to monitor registry access (a complete log of what programs try to read or write to the registry, and what values they used), being able to show what ports you have open (including UDP ports, and yes, it shows what ports are *listening*, not just currently-established connections), and flushing your Windows write-back cache to disk, a feature Windows darn well should have come with, but didn't. The fact that these guys are giving all their utilities away free is a true testament to the fact that there are still people in the world who know what they're doing.

It's hard not to love TinyApps.org. This site provides links to (and information about), you guessed it, tiny applications. And we do mean tiny by today's standards: Most are well under 100 kilobytes. Yet there are several genuinely useful or interesting programs here which can help increase your productivity or do other good stuff. This site is well worth checking out for anyone tired of bloated software that doesn't do what it's supposed to do and takes up way more system resources than it needs.

It would be difficult to imagine something more awesome than JS/UIX, a Unix console implemented in JavaScript. Although simple Unix-like command sets emulated using some little script are fairly common, the command set that this thing provides is uncommonly large, and it has something else you don't usually get with tiny Unix emulators: A fairly complete Unix-like file system. There's really very little point to JS/UIX, and you can't do much with it, but the scope of it is amazing considering it's a toy.

A gentleman named by the name of Steven Weyhrich has written a highly lengthy history of the Apple II family of computers. This history is divided into 6 volumes.

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6

The History Of Home Computers is a list of several specific models of home computers, containing full specs on most of them. This site is awesome for people who want this kind of info on classic computer models. It doesn't have many of the "generic" ones, but the famous systems like the Commodore 64 and Atari 400 are all there.

The Obsolete Computer Museum's name is pretty self-explanatory. Along similar lines, but bigger, is The Machine Room's index of companies. Also check out Timeline of Microcomputers. The University of Virginia also has an excellent computer museum page, located here: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/brochure/museum.html. Another very notable site is oldcomputers.net, not to be confused with old-computers.com. And then there's Erik Klein's Vintage Computers at vintage-computer.com. And don't forget dakid.org. There's also the highly festive Vintage Computer Festival, and The DigiBarn Computer Museum.

Oh, and to be fair, here's a link into The Machine Room's main page (instead of the companies sub-page).

If you really want to experience what computing should be like, though, there are always emulators. Check out The Computer History Simulation Project, which has several command-line emulators that allow you to program and run several original minicomputers, including machines from the likes of DEC, Data General, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. This is how computing is meant to be: With full control over all memory locations at all times. An even more viscerally enjoyable experience is MESS (Multiple Emulator Super System), a program based on the excellent MAME which allows you to emulate virtually every major computer in history. With MESS, you can truly experience what it was like to use a PDP-1 (including emulating Spacewar!), or immerse yourself into the Pravetz 8D, among the crowning achievements of Bulgaria's famous Pravetz line of home computer clones (made famous for many Westerners by the Wired magazine article Heart Of Darkness). MESS might just be the last piece of software any true hacker needs... Although, since the BIOSes on these machines are copyrighted, it doesn't come with most BIOSes. You'll need to find them yourself to use the relevant computer, but they shouldn't be too hard to find online; if you need any BIOSes for MESS, let me know and I'll see what I can do. ;)

So what do you do when you pull your Apple IIgs out of the closet where it's been for 10 years, and can't remember where (or if) you stored the manual? Apple has given permission to reproduce their Apple II manuals online to the good folks at Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange (A.P.P.L.E.). You can find faithfully scanned web versions of some documentation, including the Apple IIgs Owner's Manual, at http://apple2.callapple.org/manuals/.

Along similar lines is the Apple II Documentation Project, hosted by the same site that hosts various other interesting Apple II info file sections, including Diagrams and schematics for the Apple II+, Apple IIgs motherboard schematics, and the Apple IIe Repair Guide.

And if that's not enough Apple II links for you, check out Stphane Guillard's Apple II IDE/ATA interface, an expansion card for the Apple II which lets it use a regular IDE/ATA hard drive. Or, you can check out Mike's Apple II rev 0 Replica, a PCB designed from scratch which attempts to emulate, as closely as possible, the look and feel of the motherboard of the original Apple II revision 0. Both of these are excellent homebrew hacks built around the Apple II, reflecting its timeless popularity as arguably the only truly open major microcomputer model ever made.

Sometimes you just have to wonder what happened to a lot of the pioneering hackers of the early days of the personal computer. With the upsurgence of the micro revolution and the Internet, where did they all go? Surely most of them must have websites, right? Yet many of them are oddly hard to find online, having decided for one reason or another to stay incognito. Lee Felsenstein was one of the most significant people behind the micro revolution, having invented several types of personal computing devices in the 1980s, and famous for his quasi-Communist (and quite outspoken) political bent. Yet he's almost invisible on the Net: He apparently runs nerditude.com, a site with virtually nothing on it, and he has a blog which is very rarely updated.

It's difficult to find good information on component-level electronics these days. Everybody is interested in software, networking, and multimedia information; Chips, circuit boards, and transistors have pretty much been moved off the list of interesting things in computer technology. But if you want info on it, where do you go? Epanorama is generally the first site mentioned by in-the-know electronics engineers, as it provides a wealth of links to information in all the major EE categories.

On a related (but much more specific) note, 6502.org is an excellent site for information on the 6502, which was one of the first widely-available CPUs; It was the basis of the Apple II family of computers, the Commodore 64 and VIC-20, the Atari 400 and 800, and even the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). Clearly, the 6502 has an amazing history, and even though this kind of popularity may not have been warranted (it had a few quirks, most notably the lack of an I/O request pin, which meant it had to use memory-mapped I/O), the 6502 is still a nifty little chip which is relatively easy to build a small computer around. On the site, you can find datasheets, mini-projects, and links to other sites which contain many styles of home-made systems built around the 6502.

Daniel Boris (better known as Dan B) has been an important figure on the emulation scene for a long time. His page has a lot of nice info on older systems, mostly the Atari line as you might guess from the URL, but his page also has an excellent 6502 section where you can, among other things, download his great 6502 simulator program. Check it out if you're into emulation.

While we're on the topic of CPUs... Take a look at Homebrew CPU, a site with a staggering amount of information and pictures about one man's project to build a working CPU on circuit boards. The project has spanned several years, and Bill Buzbee, the guy behind all this, has set up the site so that it reads like a blog. It's not exactly a how-to guide, but if you read the site carefully, you should be able to replicate much of the work here (though you'll need a large investment of materials and time to do it). Definitely a fascinating concept, with much more substance to it than just a casual weekend project.

When you really want to go deep into EE, though, sometimes there's just no middle ground. Serious engineering of almost any kind tends to be a niche, as the genuinely technical details of things are usually items of only specialized interest. If you really want to see the field for what it really is, you need sites like DeepChip, an archive of user-group postings by people involved in chip design (this site is run by EETimes columnist John Cooley), SOCcentral, EDACafe (which is about EDA, Electronic Design Automation), and RF Cafe, another mostly one-man site operation. There's also Electronicnews.com, EDA Confidential, and Gabe Moretti's blog at GabeOnEDA.com. There are probably tons of other sites like these on the web, but they can be hard to find since they're seldom linked to from mainstream sites. These links should at least get you started.

The Starman's Realm bears several stylistic semblances to my own website. The naming convention similarity, the fact that they're both hosted on GeoCities, and the fact that they're both content-focused, short on graphics and long on textual information relating to computers. Obviously, the Starman has a bit more interest and talent in design than I do (his site actally uses a background image), but if you like my site and want more like it, definitely give his page a look. In a similar theme, David Schenet's website is similar to mine in its computer-centric focus on miscellaneous bits and pieces of interesting information. Although Mr. Schenet's website more closely approximates the minimalist, mostly-text style I exhibit here, it also is a bit short on information, putting it more in the "personal website" rather than the "informational website" category. Two websites by tech types with notably different foundational elements.

Along the same lines, G. Adam Stanislav's website Whiz Kid Technomagic has a selection of helpful tech information, although Mr. Stanislav seems to mainly talk about assembly language programming under Windows (!), which is in itself a hugely important and interesting topic.

www.ladyada.net has several awesome electronics projects on it, many of which are open-source and come with full schematics and how-to-make-it details. This site is the brilliant result of a busy mind which won't stop cranking out great ideas.

While there are countless possible things a computer program can do, perhaps the ultimate independent programmer's challenge is to program an operating system from scratch. It's a significant undertaking that only a brave minority even attempt. Perhaps even more challenging, however, is the prospect of making the operating system entirely in assembler. (!) There are a handful of notable miniature operating systems available on the Internet which have been made from scratch using assembly language. Probably the most notable of these is MenuetOS, which has developed something of a cult following of people who have obligingly gone ahead and filled the OS full of widgets and mini-programs. Amazing as it may seem, there's actually a port of DOSBox for MenuetOS, which is just unbelievably cool. For those who want a somewhat more "experimental" assembler OS with less stuff crammed into it, definitely check out the very promising Solar_OS (obviously not to be confused with a similarly-named OS made by a company named after a certain star).

...And if that wasn't enough for you and you really can't get enough of tiny, alternative operating systems written in assembler, check out the excellent KolibriOS (which is actually a fork of MenuetOS), Haiku (formerly OpenBeOS), the semi-infamous ReactOS, which is a great OS that attempts to be binary-compatible with Windows (but, like Wine, is taking a very, very long time to get there), AROS (AROS Research Operating System), which aims to be compatible with AmigaOS 3.1 at the API level (!), Syllable (which is Amiga-like), HelenOS, Visopsys, OpenSolaris (not an indie experimental OS; it's actually made by Sun themselves), Zeta-OS (now defunct, although the website says it will remain around for a while), and JNode, the Java New Operating System Design Effort, which is a Java operating system. Phew! If all these operating systems aren't enough for you, you're probably one of those people like me who believe that computers shouldn't have operating systems, and that each application should create its own environment.

Text files have a long and important history in the computer world. Just about as long as there have been PCs, there have been text files on BBSes on just about every topic imaginable. Most of them tend to be "how-to" or "info" files about computers or other electronics, but plenty are not. For the biggest and best collection I've seen anywhere of text files, head to textfiles.com.

The Security Writers Guild is a highly informative site containing writings on all aspects of computer security. It's unclear whether it's pro-cracker or anti-cracker; My guess is it's neutral, trying to increase the knowledge of both sides rather than take a stand on them. Either way, this is a good place to stop and read some relevant information.

OK, say you want a good basic all-around computer literacy site for a friend who's just getting started with computers. Where do you go? Check http://www.adita.com/literacy.htm.

Another thing the Web is lacking in is a good tutorial in how to program 3D graphics. You need something simple to start you off and introduce you to the basics, before you can advance to special effects and texturing and the like. For the best beginner's tutorial on solid 3D coding that I've seen yet (it's where I learned how to make my first 3D program), go here. The author of that file also has a big list of other 3D programming articles; Go here for that.

Liew Voon Kiong took his online Visual Basic tutorial so seriously that he bought it its own domain name: vbtutor.net. It's a really good tutorial site for anyone hoping to get started with VB.

Want to make sure your HTML is compliant with the HTML standard? The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has an HTML validator which will automatically check your website for compatibility with the HTML 4.0 standard. The standard is huge and unless you have no life, you don't have time to check the whole thing for compliance, so it's good that they have this validator or people might be forced to spend most of their lives checking their HTML just to make sure they conform to a worthless standard. (Seriously, if you actually read the entire specification and try to follow it, you have too much time on your hands.) The validator is located here: http://validator.w3.org/

If you love files as much as I do, run to winfiles.com, a site with more files than you can shake a... Umm, well, it has a lot of files. Really.

Speaking of files, everybody loves free software, right? Right. So go to www.freewarehome.com.

If you need a driver (and who does not?), there are several good sites on the Web which focus on helping you find device drivers, including www.drivershq.com, www.driverzone.com, www.driverguide.com, and www.windrivers.com. (The latter site is, as you might guess from the name, mostly concerned with drivers for Windows. But then, what driver site is not?)

Microsoft's new ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) system has been getting a lot of attention. Apparently some people have trouble getting it to work right, so there's a third-party help page for it at http://www.infinisource.com/techfiles/ics.html.

Annoyances.org is a website that's all about Windows "annoyances". You know, those little things about Windows that always bugged you but which you never knew how to fix. The site is absolutely loaded with helpful tips and tricks on all aspects of Windows 95 and 98, helping you make the most of your OS. The site is based on the similarly excellent "Windows Annoyances" books (published by the ubiquitous O'Reilly).

internet-tips.net is exactly what it sounds like: A site full of tips, news, and other information for people who use the Internet and want to know more about it. The concept of the site is simple, but it has more info than most such sites; This isn't a thin site, it's thick with content.

Computer Hope is a nice website which simply purports to spread computer "hope"; specifically, hope in dealing with computer problems. "Free computer help for everyone" is its slogan. It doesn't get much simpler than that. It actually does a pretty good job of what it intends to do, too, I've found some of the information there helpful.

Bugtraq is a mailing list for exploits in computer hardware and software products (mostly software). It's the Internet's main source for up-to-date information on late-breaking exploits. It's used extensively by both administrators and hackers (crackers) alike.

The computer field is full of proof-of-concept demos which serve only to demonstrate that a particular idea is physically possible to achieve. Often, these demos can be fascinating simply because they show us how to do things that might have been thought to be unlikely or impossible. Among the more interesting such demos I've seen is Tempest for Eliza, a sort of display hack which allows you to display patterns on your monitor which will produce electromagnetic radiation fields designed to be played on an AM radio. This program will allow you to (for example) play MP3s with your monitor if you place an AM radio next to it. Besides the obvious security implications, this also allows you to play MP3s on your computer with no sound card (although the quality, as you can imagine, is questionable to say the least). A very cool idea, even if it's not particularly practical. This hack resides on the Homepage of Erik Thiele, where you can also find some other nifty techno stuff, including the virtual machine YYYCPU, apparently another "just because" computer project.

Steve Mann is the world's poster boy for wearable computing. This professor at the University of Toronto has been a pioneer, creating his own wearable computers since the early 1980s. Although his devices have yet to hit the mainstream, you know it's just a matter of time. His website is wearcam.org, where you can see and read all sorts of nifty information on computers which sit under your shirt and use your glasses as a screen. (Oddly, although the title bar of that site mentions wearcomp.org as well as wearcam, the wearcomp address actually goes to a different, completely unrelated site. Weird, eh?)

20q.net is an online version of the old "twenty questions" game where a guesser tries to guess the object the other person is thinking of by asking 20 yes-or-no questions. This version uses neural net computer processing (and the experience of all the users who use the site) to come up with a program that's often pretty impressive. Seriously, it can sometimes be uncanny how accurately the system guesses the object you're thinking of... Of course, sometimes it's also way off, but still, it's good for some fun.

bembry.org is the online notebook of Bryce Embry. It's basically a website where you can study two things: Computer stuff, and religious stuff (particularly stuff related to the Bible). Instructions on CSS and SQL rub shoulders with courses on the Old Testament and the New Testament. It's an unusual mix of focuses, but both are interesting. Not bad.

Silicon Valley, the area surrounding the southern end of San Francisco Bay, is usually thought of as a shining land of opportunity for bright young people, a place where almost everybody can easily get a well-paying and rewarding job in the blossoming technology industry. Silicon Valley Debug is a website that explodes this myth. Written by a team of young people living on the fringes of society, it's the truth about Silicon Valley, and how difficult it is for people without a degree to get in to the technology field. It's filled with stories of dead-end assembly-line jobs and temporary assignments from employment agencies, drug abuse among the working-class and despair for the future, all things more typically expected from the old, industrial world, not the brave new cyber-world. If you thought that moving to the Valley would net you the job of your dreams, think again: The world still revolves around people with a paper education (i.e. college- or university-based). (Back when the Silicon Valley dot-com boom was still going on, Silicon Valley Debug was a sobering look at people who had been mistreated or left behind by the system. Since then, of course, the entire industry has come crashing down, and now the site reads more like a bunch of whiny kids complaining because they feel like they've been screwed worse than anybody else. This isn't meant to belittle them, because they've certainly been put into a disadvantaged situation, but too often it seems they forget that they have the blessing of being childless, as opposed to parents with children who desperately need to supply for their families. To the credit of the folks behind SV Debug, they've branched out, writing about things other than how unemployed they are, but now the writings on the site have little to do with the tech industry anymore, except that it is indeed still produced by a group of youngsters who live in the San Jose and Palo Alto areas.)

ESR (Eric S. Raymond) is a famous hacker, best known for being the current editor of The Jargon File (available for download in the Hacking section). His website has some interesting bits which might make good reading. (This URL, for whatever reason, has replaced his old URL, which used to be http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr .)

Bruce Sterling's book The Hacker Crackdown was originally published in 1992 as an actual paper book, and became one of the more popular non-fiction books on computer "hackers" (crackers), as it was an early entry and predated some of the most popular such books today, including Takedown and Johnathan Littman's dual accounts of the two Kevins. It is especially remembered, however, as being later released online, as text files, by Sterling himself, with the blessing of Bantam, the publisher. This was an unprecedented and exemplary case of someone actually understanding the hacker ethic (particularly the part about information being free) and taking it to heart. The electronic version of The Hacker Crackdown includes a special Preface and Afterword that were not in the paper book, and they both frame the book nicely. The electronic version is available in many, many places on the Internet, but perhaps the most well-known is at the following URL: http://www.mit.edu/hacker/hacker.html

If you want to know a lot about computers (or any other subject, for that matter), you probably read a lot of books. There are a lot of bibliographies out there about computer books, but one of the biggest and most thorough I've ever seen is Ted Friedman's, located at http://www.duke.edu/~tlove/biblio.htm. This page is wildly out of date and may go down sometime in the future; Mr. Friedman has a newer website at tedfriedman.com, but it doesn't seem to have this large biblography on it.

SlashDot is a cool website about technology news. It's getting pretty popular. It's run by Rob Malda.

In fact, the Open Source Technology Group (formerly the Open Source Development Network) is a pretty credibly useful ring of websites, including the aforementioned Slashdot, as well as SourceForge, a great site for finding open-source programming projects in development (so you can download betas or contribute to the effort yourself, if you like coding), FreshMeat, which is an amazing site which keeps up with the latest releases of free software for Linux (the sheer constant volume of new software that appears on FreshMeat is astounding), and ThinkGeek, a very cool little online store which sells t-shirts, computing gadgets, and other things of interest to computer techies. All of these sites serve tremendously useful purposes, and are fantastic at what they do, although the massive amounts of content they provide may prove to be overwhelming and difficult to keep abreast of.

Speaking of ThinkGeek, another online store that sells all manner of geek gear (t-shirts, gadgets, and the like) is ComputerGear.

NoWonder.com used to be a pretty popular site which offered free technical support. It was completely volunteer-based, offering people the chance to sign up as volunteers to help others with their questions. Although the site still offers free tech support, it seems to have become somewhat commercialized, probably in a move towards charging for their services.

freeprogrammingresources.com is, amazingly enough, a site for free programming resources. And it has a LOT of them.

fatbrain.com is awesome. It's the premier online computer-only bookstore. As their motto says: "Great minds think a lot". (UPDATE: The domain has been bought by Barnes & Noble, and now simply links to their professional, technical, and business bookstore. Still a good resource, but I miss the fatbrain ads in major industry trade magazines.)

Retrotaku / Zer0-BytE Bookstore is a small online bookstore "Specializing in antique computer and videogame books." Need I say more?

Do you miss the IBM Model M keyboards? You know, the ones that clicked so loudly you could hear them throughout the entire building and which allowed you to feel entirely certain that you had indeed pressed the key you were pressing? If so, check out Unicomp's online keyboard store. This is the company that bought the original buckling-spring technology used in the Model M from Lexmark in April of 1996, and their "Customizer" line of keyboards is the closest thing to an original Model M available on the market today. The most authentic keyboard in their lineup is the Customizer 101, which is a real 101-key keyboard, without those idiotic Windows keys between the Ctrl and Alt keys.

Dincer Aydin's Home Page is a rather wonderful website for the person who is interested in both computer/information technology and component-level electronics. Here you will find some interesting info on the Z80 CPU, PIC microcontrollers, and perhaps most intriguing of all, information on industry-standard LCD displays, including two amazingly functional JavaScript-based LCD simulators, one for alphanumeric displays, one for graphical. Worth your time if you are trying to get started with these types of displays.

Remember KMFDM? They are (were) a German industrial music group. Although their name actually stands for "Kein Mehrheit Fr Die Mitleid" ("No pity for the majority"), it was legendarily said to stand for "Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode". Why do I bring this up? Just in case you need to know the inspiration behind the name for KMFMS. "Officially", of course, it stands for "Kein Mitleid Fr MicroSoft" ("No pity for Microsoft"), but you can guess what it really stands for. This is actually one of the better anti-Microsoft sites I've seen, with a thorough, intelligent listing of all the problems Bill & Co. create, as portrayed from 3 different perspectives (that of the end-user, that of the technical user, and that of the non-user). This kind of intelligent and relevant explanation, of course, is exactly what is needed (rather than Linux kiddeez scrolling "Micro$oft sux"). (No, we really don't need more people who put up silly pictures of Bill Gates with horns and who make jokes about the size of his reproductive organs. That sort of thing may be amusing but it doesn't say why those people actually dislike Microsoft in the first place. Indeed, it probably does more harm than good, as it seems to indicate that most people who rebel against Microsoft are dumb. We also don't need more complaints about how rich the guy is: The problem isn't his money, the problem is the software his company makes.) However, although KMFMS offers plenty of ammo as far as why to fight Microsoft, it does not help much as far as how. Oh, sure, it does have a brief list of alternative operating systems, web browsers, etc. and encourages you to use them, but it doesn't really do that as thoroughly as it sets the case against Microsoft in the first place. So while KMFMS is a useful site for convincing people who say "Microsoft isn't so bad, why do people always pick on them?", once you've gone beyond that, this site doesn't provide much to go on. (Historical Note: It is actually proper German to say "Kein Mitleid Fr Die Mehrheit", but KMFDM the band reversed the two M-words, for reasons unknown to me. And yes, this is being anal-retentive to note this.)

Although some people hate GUIs, one can't really deny that GUIs have had a significant impact on the computer world. Indeed, more than anything else, the GUI is probably what has most shaped the personal computer experience for most people today, for better or for worse; even the Linux crowd tends to run XWindows or something similar now. However, the GUI is not a new development. In fact, it existed in comparatively primitive forms on some platforms you might not expect, including both the Apple II and the Commodore 64. The one interesting thing about a GUI is how effectively it can be historically archived in screenshots; a screenshot will tell you much more about a GUI OS than it usually will about a CLI. In apparent recognition of this basic property stands the Graphical User Interface Gallery, an excellent and surprisingly thorough trip down memory lane, covering all the GUIs you remember and loved (like Amiga's Workbench and the very early MacOS), the GUIs you don't WANT to remember (which mainly consists of Windows XP in this case), and the GUIs you probably never used in the first place (like BeOS or GEM). The screenshots on this page brilliantly capture the flavor and functionality of most of the systems reviewed, and the guy who writes the commentary on each GUI seems to mostly agree with my own viewpoint, which of course means that he's correct. :) To be fair, here's a link to the main page, Nathan's Toasty Technology Page, a site with lots of other interesting info. (This guy seems to have something very seriously against Internet Explorer.)

If you can't get enough 13375p34k, check out this site which seems to be about a "JURNI TO GET PHAT LEWTZ": http://www.angelfire.com/sc2/eqstuff/

Even better is H4x0r Economist, one of the most hilariously surreal 31337 comics I've ever seen. The eponymous "H4x0r Economist" is actually none other than Alan Greenspan, who, for those who don't know, is chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Board. The comic stars a hax0r-talking Greenspan who can't seem to stop hax0ring foreign countries, presumably in the interests of strengthening the American economy. Just try not laughing when Greenspan asks SHODAN "do u want 2 cyber???". Okay, admittedly, maybe the strip isn't actually that great, and there are only a few dozen strips on the page, but still, it's so originally bizarre, in a good way, that it's worth glancing over at least.

Keeping with the web comics theme, Everybody loves Eric Raymond is a web comic about Eric S. Raymond (ESR, well-known open-source activist), Richard Stallman (yet another open-source activist and founder of the Free Software Foundation), and Linus Torvalds (the man who wrote the Linux kernel) living in an apartment together. Yes, it's silly, but it's actually gotten a lot of attention; the author has personally received e-mail about it from Raymond and Stallman. (No word on what Torvalds thinks of the strip yet.)

Lavarand will fully and completely convince you, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that some people who work at SGI have way too much time on their hands.

William Gibson aleph is a handy site if you're trying to read a novel by William Gibson. Although Gibson's work is brilliantly-conceived, it's also deliberately mysterious. Many concepts are not explained clearly (or at all), and many characters are not introduced, making much of the writing confusing. Of course, this is exactly what Gibson intended: There are many who maintain that cyberpunk is not *meant* to be explicitly explained, but rather to be *experienced*, without getting into the nitty-gritty of the details. That may be fine for the artsy-fartsy crowd (which, oddly, is most Gibson fans; People who call themselves "cyberpunks" are usually more artistic than technical), but for anyone who actually wants to do a serious literary study of the Sprawl series, this site contains a list of characters and their bios, as well as a glossary of some important terms. Even though I read "Neuromancer" before seeing this site, browsing the site made some things about the book a lot clearer.

For a more general scope of the cyberpunk world, there are a fair number of pages intending to provide information on "cyberpunk" culture by now, but most of them are fairly incomplete or trivial; The most all-encompassing site I've seen so far, and the only one that even approaches actually documenting the breadth of the culture, is at project.cyberpunk.ru.

THE.SCENE is a popular series of fictional videos (which you can view in your browser as Flash files, or download for offline viewing) about a movie piracy group. The series aims to capture the feel of the underground tech scene in a way that can't seem to help but recall the infamous movie Hackers: All the characters seem more stylized than real people could possibly be, and much of the dialogue is awkward and obviously deliberately made to sound technical. Nonetheless, the videos can be entertaining and the plot actually develops into a surprisingly deep series of twists and turns as it goes on. The series starts off seeming like a fictionalized documentary about the underground warez scene, but after a few episodes it quickly loses that "fictional portrayal of a real phenomenon" aspect and just becomes a basic true-crime story. Bear in mind as you watch, of course, that this is probably as accurate a rendition of the underground warez scene as G.I. Joe is of the military, but you may gain some insight into how online chat addicts use their computers (if you're not one yourself); most of the "action" unfolds on a computer screen through a series of IRC, ICQ, AOL, and Yahoo Messenger chats, and characters typically type their responses while being distracted by several other conversations. I usually try to be precise in my online conversations and avoid chat shorthand except for a few things like "BRB", but if this is what real-life chatters are really like, no wundr theire typng lookz lk ths! Demonstrating once again that parody is the sincerest form of flattery, this site also has a corresponding parody series done in the classic 1337 style called TEH.SCENE. I would actually argue that in many ways, TEH.SCENE is more entertaining, although it certainly doesn't take itself very seriously. Its production values are also somewhat lacking; the video and especially the audio tends to be amateurish at times (in many scenes you can hardly hear what the characters are saying due to bad sound balancing), but for the most part it's a series that's more dynamic and funny than the target it's parodying in the first place. Ultimately, though, Pure Pwnage is better than both, featuring comparatively excellent production values, and by far the best plot and script writing of them all. This series is also sort of silly, but it contains several genuinely laugh-out-loud funny moments. (The first episode is kind of weak, but wait for it; it gets better after that.) Unlike the two "Scene" series, PP is about gaming rather than pirating, but most computer people will probably identify strongly with it. Two thumbs up for amateur online video!

When I first started this website in 1998, I really wasn't sure what direction it would take. Since then, the site has become bigger than I anticipated it would; I've gotten hundreds of thousands of hits, and I've received a lot of e-mails from people all over the world. There's only one website that I'm aware of, however, that actually started because of inspiration gained from this site: Y3r0gHTX's page. I'm flattered that Y3r0gHTX was inspired enough by my material to start his own site in the same vein, and he's done a good job of setting up his own unique set of topics, including the same hodgepodge of computer and electronics info and other miscellaneous techie stuff that I've filled my index page with. Here's hoping that Y3r0gHTX has as much fun making his site as I have. :)

Principia Cybernetica is a site that attempts to explain classical philosophy concepts using an Internet-centric point of view. This is sort of an interesting idea, but it turns out that the Internet does not actually have much to do with the classical questions that philosophy tries to answer, like "What is the meaning of life?" or "How can people be happy?", so this ends up being a fairly standard collection of philosophical musings. Still interesting, however, if you want an introduction to the sometimes-bizarre thinking of the philosophical world.

Dick Perron's Hardware Information Page is, as you may have guessed, a page with information about hardware. I like it because it provides a lot of material without anything in the way (the top of the page specifically says it's intentionally made without applets or frames or similar glitz). Just no-nonsense links to what you really want: Information.

A guy named Tomas Andersson has a page with a lot of hardware info on it. It's at http://www.student.nada.kth.se/~d94-tan/pckort/manualer.html.

Art's Bookmark Page has a lot of bookmarks (Web links) on it. This page has even more.

Thank you, "Fat Mike", for calling my website the "best page ever" on your homepage. :) Mike's homepage shows his own obsession with computers and computer knowledge.

Hack A Day is exactly what it sounds like: A website offering a new hack every day. By nature, any production which is tied to a regular schedule like this tends to be of widely varying quality (since if the producers haven't found anything good to put out, they still need to put out *something*), but the hacks here tend to be of surprisingly consistent quality: Things you'd actually want to do, both because you can learn from them and because they'd be fun. They also tend to be "serious" hacks involving extensive circuit or casing modification, not knockoff "hacks" like changing a software setting or cutting a wire. If you want to know what real hardware hacking is, browse this site for a while and be amazed at what people can do with real inspiration.

The amount of information (mostly information relating to classic computer games) you can find at http://members.chello.at/theodor.lauppert/ is absolutely amazing. Just go there, you'll be amazed.

Gibson Research Corporation has long been a famous name in the computer industry because of their SpinRite program, a disk-diagnostics-and-repair utility ( la Scandisk or Norton Disk Doctor). In more recent times, however, they have become better known for their website at grc.com, which features the semi-famous "ShieldsUP" page which purports to scan your computer for security vulnerabilities. (Unfortunately, ShieldsUP only seems to scan your NetBIOS port (TCP port 139) and check if you're running a NetBIOS server there, which you probably aren't unless you've got File Sharing enabled in your Windows networking section, which is an old classic security vulnerability. Still, a website which can analyze your security is a nice idea... It's just that ShieldsUP is hardly a thorough analysis.) The site also has a bunch of other interesting info on computer things, like denial-of-service (DoS) attacks (including the recent DDoS attacks on grc.com itself). Overall, the site is a tad messy and disorganized because it's so chock-full of info (and Steve Gibson's penchant for changing the size and color of his font every five lines), but it's still well worth a visit.

If you haven't heard of the Microsoft Knowledge Base (MSKB), you've been missing out on the largest collection of bug reports (and fixes) in the world. It's at http://support.microsoft.com/search/default.asp.

Hacker's Wisdom is a clever collection of interesting, insightful, and/or important writings on hacking and hackerdom.

Turing's Craft is a programming education site which has non-free courses in C, C++, and Java. Curiously, the courses seem to be mainly just a series of exercises, so you'd probably want to have a good reference on your language of choice as you work your way through the questions. This probably isn't anything you couldn't find in a good textbook or on the web somewhere, but if you want a collection of test questions on one of these programming languages and are willing to pay for them, this might be a good place to look. One of the site's testimonials is from an instructor who calls the site "the most important thing that has happened so far in the area of web-based programming instruction," which probably means he liked it.

Let's face it: If you want to keep up with all the latest computer news, you need a source which will explain all the new acronyms and buzzwords that keep popping up in the IT industry. whatis.com is that source. Another similar site is the excellent Webopedia.

And for the latest computer news, I've yet to find a source better than the world-famous ZDNet. Run by Ziff-Davis (the publishing monolith which publishes PC Magazine and runs TechTV (formerly ZDTV), the only TV channel which is only about computing), this is a huge site with just about everything you'd want in a tech-oriented website: Lots of news, downloads, articles, product reviews, etc.

If there is a better place for tech news, though, it may be Good Morning Silicon Valley, a site with lots of news stories updated daily but not as much of the other content as ZDNet.

The other big computing portal site is CNET.

Like most people, geeks have issues. They're not always very outspoken or proactive about these issues (because they're too busy at their computers), but they do have special issues that are fairly unique to their community. geekissues.org is a site that lists news stories pertaining to them.

Dr. Dobb's Journal has long been one of the definitive periodicals for programmers.

If you're anything like me, you've lost count of how many times you've downloaded a program that you've used previously, only to find that the latest version of the program has a new feature you didn't expect: It sucks. Whether it's been laden down with excessive bloat, adware/spyware, or even lost key features that you used to use, there are times when you wish that you could have the old version of a program back. Alas, most vendors only want you getting hold of their latest versions, and they'd prefer to bury older versions in some kind of figurative landfill, never to see the light of day again. That's why sites like oldversion.com are a tremendous public service, acting as repositories of older versions of popular software. On this site, you can find many, many good versions of programs that now suck; versions which would have been lost forever, had not someone gone to the time and effort of archiving the good stuff for users like you and me. A big thank you to the folks behind this site!

You've probably heard of TUCOWS, The Ultimate Collection Of Winsock Software (that's what it stands for), the site which uses two Holstein cows for a logo and got sued by Gateway for it. It has a lot of software downloads. In fact this is one of the best file sites on the Web, with all the files nicely categorized, along with short but generally informative reviews.

Okay, are you tired of the stories over-hyping computer "hacking" and the doom-saying about what chaos it can cause? You haven't seen over-the-top mis-carriage of journalism until you've read this article on the UK Register. Yes, this article (in a fairly major and well-respected website, no less), entitled "Hackers Can Make Your PC Explode" and published on April 5, 2000, states that hackers can kill you through your computer, by making it blow up. (Historically, there has been a myth in the computer world about an EOU (End Of User) character which would cause the terminal to explode; But it didn't really exist.) Oh, speaking of The Register, it's actually a good IT news site, with journalism that's usually pretty accurate and often very interesting. Ignore this one exception.

SysOpt.com is a well-known and highly-respected portal site for system optimization. It's got plenty of good reads for tweakers who want to get the most out of their computers.

Wotsit is a semi-famous site which lists formats for various file types, hardware/communication protocols, and other such helpful reference items.

Link button for pinouts.ru What a website! pinouts.ru is a massive collection of pinout diagrams for just about every computer interface you could think of, as well as several that you couldn't. This isn't just the major stuff like AGP, USB, and the like; they seriously have connectors going back to classic Commodore, Amiga, and Atari computers. If only there were more websites like this!

Game Programming With DJGPP sounds like a site about programming with DJGPP, quite possibly the best C/C++ compiler for DOS. In actuality, however, the site is more about game programming for DOS in general, regardless of compiler. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as the site contains a bunch of great information on programming (particularly video and audio) for DOS, which is always interesting to read.

Speaking of game programming for DOS, The PC Game Programmer's Encyclopedia is a HUGE collection of text files on the subject. Great stuff! Development on it has stopped, but the work still stands as a monument.

The Valuable DOS Freeware Page is exactly what it sounds like: A website offering useful freeware for DOS. Gotta love it.

Klaus Meinhard's Homepage has a lot of stuff about DOS, especially 4DOS, the little-known MS-DOS clone that was widely regarded by command-line enthusiasts as being superior to plain DOS. 4DOS was actually the basis of NDOS (Norton DOS), part of the Norton Utilities in the DOS days. The fact that this 4DOS clone came with Norton, which was one of the most popular software packages of that time, may have contributed to the fact that 4DOS by itself was never that popular; Why pay for an OS when you get a clone of it free with a slew of other utilities to boot? Anyway, if you miss DOS but never tried 4DOS and want to try something different, it's certainly worth a look.

If you've ever wanted to make your own Atari 2600 cartridge, the hardware side of things really isn't that complicated. In the "Homebrew" section at www.pixelspast.com, you can buy simple circuit boards which allow you to solder on your own pre-programmed ROM chip, resulting in a fully-usable cartridge. Only a handful of other parts need to be soldered onto the board. They even sell plastic cartridge cases which allow you to package your circuit into an authentic-style case when you're done.

Winmodems are not modems is one of the more thorough and complete sites I've seen on the subject of winmodems, and their compatibility with Linux.

Speaking of Linux, if you're just getting into Linux, you've probably noticed that just being aware of all the Linux distributions out there (let alone actually figuring out what's the difference between them) is a full-time job. Good thing, then, that there's a site that makes a full-time job out of informing you on the different Linux distros: DistroWatch.com.

When personal computers first came into existence, the field of computing was probably just as much art as science, and although much of the artistry has gone out of computing, it retains a significant right-brain element. Computers may work on logical principles and use lots of math, but they also seem to encourage people to express themselves and act creative in ways that other forms of media sometimes don't, perhaps because computers are simply capable of "doing" more than any other form of media. Sometimes unusual forms of artistry pop up in unexpected places; in fact, sometimes the artistry is deliberately hidden, and requires some special secret code or procedure to uncover it. These hidden entities are often called "Easter eggs". Many developers put these into their programs as jokes or hidden credits sequences. There are lots of sites with lists of these secrets, but www.eeggs.com is one of the best. Another form of unexpected artistry that many people probably don't think about today is physical media. CDs are commonly stamped with some unique image that constitutes a form of art, and the same is true of floppies. One form of media art that's mostly nonexistant today, however, is art placed on a floppy disk sleeve. Before rigid-shelled 3.5" floppy disks started becoming standard, people used 5.25" and even 8" floppies which really did flop; they weren't very rigid at all, and they also lacked the 3.5" disk's shutter to cover the disk's access opening, so these older floppies were supposed to be kept in a protective paper sleeve. Not surprisingly, many manufacturers took the opportunity to print designs on these sleeves. The designs were usually just company logos, but occasionally you'd see gems of artwork which have pretty much slipped into an extremely obscure region of history. The Original 5 1/4" Disk Sleeve Archive will probably bring back many memories for those who frequently used floppy disk sleeves in the times when computers were real.

MapQuest is basically an online atlas of the entire world. You can get street-level detail maps for any place in North America, and probably most of the rest of the world too. This site can be incredibly useful for all kinds of things. Since this link went up, though, MapQuest has been copied by many other sites, the best of which is probably Google's offering.

Every day, life is full of decisions. So, why not use computers to help you make those decisions, right? Hence, SelectSmart, a site with a bunch of questionnaires which, once filled out, will help you decide things like which political party you're most likely to be affiliated with, which religion most closely fits your beliefs, what job is most appropriate for you, what kind of person you're best suited to date/marry, etc. Obviously these results should be taken with some grain of salt, but still, it's a neat idea.

Lots of sites have fun little Flash games on them. However, I can hardly imagine a site with more (and more addictively fun) small Flash games than the appropriately-named OneMoreLevel.com, except possibly for the pure deluge of the (also aptly-named) Largest Free Online Games List. Another great site with a huge selection of fun Flash games is Miniclip.com.

Trying to use the Usenet? When you get tired of fooling around with NNTP servers which don't accept anonymous logins or don't carry the newsgroup you're looking for, head to deja.com (formerly DejaNews), a site which'll let you browse the Usenet or post to it (if you have an account with them). It's a little more awkward than using a real newsgroup browser, but it seems to carry just about every newsgroup you could think of.

However, if you really want the old-school Usenet experience (usually because you have an NNTP client which provides a nicer interface than Deja's website), Yahoo has a list of public-access Usenet sites here. (Well, more specifically, it's a list of OTHER websites which list public-access Usenet sites.) (Be aware, though, that for some curious reason, many of these so-called "public" sites require a login and password, and don't accept anonymous or guest ones.) Find it here.

Spam Laws is a website with information on the interesting (and increasingly important) subject of laws regarding unsoliciated commercial e-mail. Of course, spam is immoral even if it's not illegal, but knowing what the laws are and how they affect you is always good. On that note, another good place to stop by if you want to learn more about spam is the giant spam FAQ located (appropriately enough) at www.spamfaq.net.

By far the best website (that I know of, anyway) for user reviews of cars is carsurvey.org. This is the place to go when you're looking for a used car and want to see what problems (if any) people seem to have most frequently with that make, model, and year, and what other comments they might have about it. On the other end of the scale, a good site for brand-new car reviews is NewCarTestDrive.com.

Computer Songs and Poems is a site loaded with song lyrics re-written to be computer- related. An amusing look-over for song parodies. Also check the collection of LOTS Songs, a reference to the Low-Overhead Timesharing System, which spawned a lot of these things on its own.

Speaking of computer humor, http://www.d.umn.edu/~tbeste1/humor is a site with quite a large collection of computer jokes.

And while on the topic of humor, Dave Barry is a famous humor columnist for the Miami Herald, and one of the funniest writers I've seen. You can read a lot of his columns at this link.

Dave Barry is known for numerous running gags, such as "I swear I am not making this up", and "(something) would be a good name for a rock group". The latter is also part of his tendency to make fun of various popular music tunes, especially inane lyrics in them. In this spirit is Am I Right, a site which revolves mainly around the goal of making fun of song lyrics, mostly through people making parodies of them. Unfortunately, these parodies are usually as stupid as, or even stupider than, the songs they're making fun of. I list this site here because its "Misheard Lyrics" lists are actually a great resource. If you suffer from "lyricosis", the notional disease of modern society which causes sufferers to have difficulty understanding song lyrics, you can find tons of lists here of common (and not so common) lines from songs which were not quite heard correctly. Perhaps the most famous example of a mis-heard song lyric occurs in Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze", in which he sings "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky"... Many people believed he was actually saying "this guy". Anyway, the site is amusing and you might find some lyrics which you've always wondered about. (Funnily enough, after I'd added this link and written the bit about Hendrix, I discovered kissthisguy.com, another page devoted to mis-heard song lyrics, and named after the Hendrix lyric to boot. I like amiright.com better, though, personally, although kissthisguy has a better domain name.)

There are also several general-purpose lyrics pages on the Web; Check out LetsSingIt.com, lyricfind.com, lyricsfree.com, or getlyrics.com.

Engrish.com has been one of the most famous and longest-running humor sites on the Web, pretty much since the Web began. The premise of the site is simple: It makes fun of "Engrish", collecting various bits of merchandise and pop culture (mostly from the Far East) which contain broken English, as translated by people who speak some other native language. While perhaps not the most politically correct site on the Internet, Engrish.com is good for several laughs, and there's quite a bit of material that's accumulated on the site, so if you aren't offended by humor that's sometimes mildly ethnic in nature, take a look.

I KISS YOU! Mahir Cagri's website became something of a small cult phenomenon when it was first put up, thanks to its hilarious (and apparently, unintentional) humor, including personal revelations such as "I makepsycolojy doctora", "I like to take foto-camera (amimals , towns , nice nude models andpeoples).....", and of course, the immortal classic line by itself: "I like sex". It was just a small picture page with a few comments, but a little charisma goes a long way, right? As usual, the whole thing got blown completely out of control, with regular references on the David Letterman show and even a world tour. Unfortunately, Mahir's website at Xoom has gone down for some reason. The URL used to be http://members.xoom.com/_XOOM/primall/mahir/index.html but that link is now 404. But all is not lost! A gentleman calling himself "Mojo Mr. Toad" has created an archive of Mahir's site for posterity, a public service for which he should be recognized and praised. His site's url is http://www.geocities.com/mojomrtoad/

Homestar Runner continues to be one of the Web's best-kept secrets. Admittedly, the site has little or no useful information on it, but what it has is a huge collection of brilliantly funny Flash animations based around a recurring cast of friends (uh, well okay, maybe calling them "friends" isn't exactly the best word) and their antics. Although the site is named after the tall gray guy in the beanie cap and the red shirt, there's little question that Strong Bad, the guy in the Mexican wrestling mask and boxing gloves, repeatedly steals the show. And for a ridiculous amount of Homestar Runner information, check out Homestar Runner Wiki.

Speaking of Flash, now might be a good time to face the truth: Like many other things that serve mostly to plague the Web, Flash often seems incredibly annoying and pointless. Far too many distracting, obnoxious online ads are done with Flash, to the point where I'm often compelled to turn Flash off in my browser. However, the truth is that, like Java (another overhyped, seemingly-useless boondoggle), Flash has a certain place in the world. Flash actually can do much more than just create overglorified animations; it can create fully interactive content. Now, any real computer person would dismiss this capability as irrelevant, correctly asserting that you can make interactive content more efficiently using any programming language, like C or assembler. However, we must ultimately accept that not every person in the world is a "computer person", and not everybody is going to learn a "real" programming language to make some simple interactive multimedia applet. For these people, Flash is actually the perfect vehicle to experiment with, because it's relatively intuitive and easy--even for people who aren't programmers--to draw things and then make them do things in Flash. Flash isn't just for making graphics move around, either; more recent versions have a full-blown programming language called ActionScript built in. The result is that for anyone who's ever wanted to make a small, simple game but hasn't been willing to tangle with serious programming, Flash now exists to make that idea into reality. The result: Extremely short games of all kinds have been flourishing on the Web, coming from people who normally wouldn't create such things. This is a Good Thing, because it's opened up the world of creating computer games to people with all sorts of perspectives, not just people who are already computer geeks. Some brilliant Flash-only games exist which could probably have been done just as well in C, but which are quite polished and playable as they are. Among the most famous examples is the incredibly difficult and unforgiving (yet beautifully designed and detailed) Hapland, which has been such a success that it's spawned two sequels: Hapland 2 and Hapland 3. For a more relaxed experience, try the excellent Samorost, which is a genuine work of art with its brilliantly creative graphical and atmospheric style. Samorost is quite short and easy as adventures go, and its relatively simplistic point-and-click nature have led some to compare it to Myst (both in a good way and a bad way), but for anyone willing to look past their prejudices for a moment, this is computer creativity at its best. Like Hapland, Samorost has a sequel, which has its own domain name at www.samorost2.net. Alas, the sequel is divided into two parts, and only the first half is free; the second half is sold on CD, but it actually seems worth buying it. Presumably inspired by these types of games, but with a considerably different look and feel to it, Warbears is a very cute game whose cute-and-cuddly style belies its Hapland-like difficulty. None of these games are as long as currently popular adventures like Grim Fandango or the aptly-named The Longest Journey, but they are beautiful and inspiring masterpieces from people who obviously have a passion for what they do, and all of these are encouraging examples of what can happen when art and science come together. If Flash enables people to exhibit this kind of creativity, I'm happy to live in a world where Flash exists, as long as I can turn it off when I'm just surfing.

How to tie a necktie is a fundamental skill for the businessman. If you have no idea how to do it, you'd better go there and learn. Another excellent site for learning how to tie your tie (including the three types of common necktie knots) is available here.

OK, so let's say your goal is to be a computer industry professional, but you have the classic problem: Professional-level information is hard to find on the Internet, and books (still the best way to get the real information) cost too much (since you're probably either still in university or not even that far yet). If you can afford the relatively low subscription rate, the solution is to go to ITKnowledge, a site which has several books (good ones!) about IT, available to read online. All the best subjects, like programming and networking and security. It costs, but if you read a lot of these kinds of books you'll save plenty in the long run.

Speaking of being a computer industry professional, once you've gotten your knowledge, you next need a job, right? There are several excellent job search sites on the Web and also a few good ones which are exclusively for IT jobs. But probably my personal favorite is dice.com, which I like because it lets you narrow your search by area code (good for people who live in California, a big state with about 35 or so area codes in it) instead of just by state or city. (It also has more job offers than most sites.) Two other noteworthy sites for IT jobs are techies.com and computerjobs.com. And if you're a mercenary looking for a quick gig rather than something long-term, guru.com is your site.

These days, certification is one of the most important things you can have to augment your IT career. Many folks can't afford the time or money needed to go back to college (if they ever went in the first place) to get a Master's or a Ph.D. Certification is usually cheaper, faster, and it lets you choose what fields you want to target. But if you think certification is mostly either A+, Cisco, or Microsoft, you'd be wrong. There are hundreds of certs you can get, in all kinds of different fields. GoCertify is an excellent site which lists the major certifications in the world today, and (glory be!) it actually rates each one in terms of value (how much that certification will likely help your job-search prospects) and skill (how easy it is to get the cert in the first place), incredibly useful aspects that make this an excellent reference site for anyone looking to quickly add something to their rsum.

Here's a nice primer on HTML. And here's another one. There are also several excellent tutorial sites that have all you need to get started with the full suite of Web languages, inluding HTML, XML, XHTML, CSS, etc. Some great sites for this are W3Schools and EchoEcho.

An Atlas Of Cyberspace is exactly what it sounds like. This is an absolutely fascinating site, full of maps and diagrams which are both beautiful and informative, helping to add some real-world physicality to the Internet, a network which, for most, remains rather vague and abstract.

Every now and then, you find a new widget on a website that completely changes how you look at something. It doesn't even have to be especially innovative, necessarily; just a new perspective on something. However, Websites as graphs is innovative from both a creativity and a technology standpoint; it "maps" websites as a series of dots (the colors of which represent different site elements like images, links, etc.), and the results can provide brilliant at-a-glance insight into almost any website's design. Beyond this, though, the Java program that is the heart of this site is obviously well-coded and it does a good job of presenting its layout in the most intuitive way. A very worthy stopoff for anyone with an interest in design of website navigation.

The Living Internet is one of the most complete sites I've seen with regards to information on the Internet. Although there's a fair bit of technical and how-to info here, I found the most fascinating stuff to be the history of the Net's development, including bios on all the people behind the development of ARPANET and IP like Larry Roberts, Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn. Great stuff for computer people with a historian bent.

Warriors Of The Net is both the name of a 12-minute, 40-second animated short which describes the behavior of Internet packets in a way that's easy to understand for everybody, and the name of the website which hosts said animated short.

Tek Gear is an online store specializing in virtual reality head-mounted displays. They sell a good selection of these, as well as other types of cool gadgets. A lot of the stuff there is insanely expensive, but if you've got the money and a serious desire for amazing tech, it's worth checking out.

Life in the USA is a website about everyday life in an American society. Although intended for recent immigrants who might be unfamiliar with some of the prevailing customs in modern America, it also makes a nice primer for young people or anyone who's just getting started in the world and who wants some guidance in entering mainstream society. A nice, free guide full of helpful information.

Lynx (the web browser that's infamous for being text-only, lacking support for graphics, frames, or Java/JavaScript/ActiveX) is readily available for Linux, but where do you get the Windows/DOS version? From ftp://crab.it.osha.sut.ac.jp/pub/Win32/develope/senshu/Lynx/. As of this writing, the file you want is lynx282j-pr6-990525.zip (it's Lynx version 2.8.2 for DOS.)

Softpanorama, a self-described "(slightly skeptical) Open Source Software Educational Society" has a lot of interesting information on computer program development aimed at the university Computer Science student. Although this page is not meant to be a programming tutorial or instruction course in any way, it does do a nice job of providing opinions and perspective on the course of computer development and the open-source movement; This is the university computer clique's editorial page, basically, and it does it with plenty of wry wit and relevant insight that university students need.

The SuperLinux Encyclopedia is a site with a lot of links to info of interest to Linux users.

Tina The Troubled Teen has become something of a small celebrity on the Internet, a parody of people who "adopt" made-up animals and put cartoonish pictures of them somewhere on their websites; Tina is a fairly typical Gothy teenager who sees a dark world and usually has something tastefully angsty to say. You can check her thoughts to see what she has to say today (she seems to get updated frequently), or you can add her to your page and let other people see her there.

Did you know there's a club for animated GIFs? I didn't think you could make a whole club out of them, but somebody did. It's called Club Unlimited.

LCC is the only free stand-alone C/C++ compiler in existence which can compile Windows executables. That makes it a unique product. The LCC homepage is at http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~lcc-win32/.

If you've spent much time on the Internet, you probably know what a FAQ is. It's a Frequently Asked Question, or a file containing a bunch of FAQs on one subject, along with their answers. Some FAQs are brief and really do only answer questions which are often asked, while some go above and beyond the call, answering just about every question you could think of about the topic, plus some which no sane person would ever think of. For a collection of some good FAQs on a variety of topics, check out www.faqs.org.

Spencer's Socket Site is a comprehensive site on socket programming, with quite a few resources for both the Unix and the Windows socket programmer.

For the electronics engineers among you, check out www.epanorama.net, a site with links to info on just about every aspect of circuit boards, ICs, etc. It's a cool site because it's thorough.

NetBus and Back Orifice have garnered a lot of public attention because they're the most commonly-used trojan horses, but there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of obscure ones out there. For one of the bigger lists I've seen (along with the ports they usually use), check http://www.secure-me.net/r3/dsl/trojans.

RantRadio is a commercial-free Internet radio station which plays electronica music. They've been around for a few years, and they tend to play pretty darn good music that you're not likely to have heard too many times before. This seems like a perfect site to keep running in the background and supply you with some nice ambient music to listen to while you're doing something on your computer. Another nice thing about this site is that it streams through WinAmp, so you don't have to tolerate the horrors of RealPlayer.

A band called God Ate My Homework is releasing their music free on MP3s on the Web. This isn't the only band doing this, but I decided to (what the heck) include them here since they're funny and they consist entirely of 4 university students (at UC Berkeley, no less), which is cool. Their website has since gone down, but you can still find their MP3s in various locations online; If you go looking, perhaps their best-known song is "I Saw Bill Gates On IRC".

Another entry from the "Sites that lots of people want but too few people know about" category: homerecording.com will tell you how to set up a home recording studio. What makes this site awesome is that it actually has real information. No, we really don't need another site to explain the difference between a MIDI and a wave file or to just rattle off a list of overpriced brand-name hardware that works like junk. This site actually will give you real advice on what kind of microphone(s), mixer(s), software, etc. to buy so that you can actually produce decent-sounding recordings in your own home without spending absurd sums of money to do it. The site isn't huge, but the info that's there is eminently useful and explains what you need to know in clear, simple terms. Give these folks a hand. Bravo.

Steven Weyhrich's Apple II History is a LARGE document chronichling the history of the Apple II family. (I am VERY confused. When did this also become a 6-volume link set above? I guess that's the GUI background showing through.)

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