With April 1st somewhere in the vicinity, it seems appropriate to look at some Internet-related items that have no real purpose except amusement. Please note that, as always, these selections only represent my own tastes.

Comics

"The Dilbert Zone" (http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/dilbert/) archives two weeks worth of Dilbert comic strips, featuring {Cat,Dil,Dog,Rat}bert and a selection of Dilbert's co-workers. Great stuff, and particularly useful if your #$%@ newspaper doesn't see fit to carry the strip.

Actually, the parent page (http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/) leads to over a dozen separate comic strips, including: "Alley Oop", "Arlo & Janis", "The Born Loser", "Committed", "Dilbert", "Drabble", "Doctor Fun", "Over The Hedge", "Jump Start", "Marmaduke", "Nancy", "Peanuts", "Reality Check", "Robotman", and "Rose Is Rose".

Unfortunately, the user interface isn't all that it could be. United Media makes you download a 65KB image map before you can select any of the strips. Also, once you get to the strips themselves, the navigation is pretty clunky. Due to the lack of "wrapper" pages, there is no way to step directly from one strip to the next one.

Cuute stuff

Many of these things will only seem cuute to techies, but you are reading UNIX Review, so you presumably qualify...

Vicki Brown has been collecting assorted email and net postings for the last several years. Her Cuute stuff page (http://www.ptf.com/cfcl/vlb/h/cuute.html) contains quite a few of these, organized into rough categories. Linda Brannigan's piece on the perils of displaying John Lassiter's UNIX daemon in a Texas diner (http://www.ptf.com/cfcl/vlb/f/Cuute/satan.in.texas) is one of my special favorites. Hugh Gallagher's exceedingly modest college application essay (http://www.ptf.com/cfcl/vlb/f/Cuute/college.essay) is another.

I also like Robert Hayden's "Geek Zone" (http://krypton.mankato.msus.edu/~hayden/geek.html/), which helps me to understand (and generate) descriptive strings like:

  ------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------ 
  Version: 3.1
  GB/CS/TW d-(--) s+:+() a+ C++$ US++++$ P++$ L !E--- W(+++)$@>$
  N+(++)@ o? K-? !w--- !O M+$ V PS+(++) PE(-) Y+(++) PGP+ t+ 5+(++)
  X-? !R tv b++(+++) DI+++>+++++ !D G e++ h---(++) r+++ y+++ 
  ------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------ 

The "Jargon File", maintained by Eric Raymond, is the definitive compendium of hacker speak. It (http://www.ccil.org/jargon/jargon.html) is also full of enlightening sociological observations and amusing trivia.

For a somewhat older set of sociological observations, you might want to try my I Ching pages (http://www.ptf.com/ching/). The I Ching has been kicking around for five millennia or so, but it still seems apposite, on occasion.

The Internet Anagram Server (aka Inert Net Grave Near Mars) is another fun way to examine random connections between topics. The Web version (http://www.wordsmith.org/awad-cgibin/anagram) only accepts input strings of ten characters or less, but an email server is available for (slightly) longer strings.

Dogz

Dogz (http://www.dogz.com/) are "Computer Pets", based (intentionally!) on simple AI and simpler graphics:

"... Dogz--the very first pets to live and grow right on your computer desktop. Dogz love it when you pet and play with them. You can train them to do loads of tricks. And you can play games with them like fetch and keep away."

The Dogz "Adoption Kit" allows you to try out several dogz, adopting the one you like most. You are free (encouraged!) to redistribute the adoption kit; the company is hoping that this will cause widespread dissemination and licensing of the product.

The Worst...

"Mirsky's Worst of the Web" (http://mirsky.turnpike.net/wow/Worst.html) is a highly personal guide to the worst pages to be found on the Web. You have been warned...

INTERCAL (http://www.ccil.org/~esr/esr-freeware.html) is very probably the worst programming language ever invented. At least, that's the design goal! If you find any mis-feature INTERCAL lacks, send in a bug report. The guily party (Eric Raymond, once again) may be inspired to throw it into the next version.

Many programmers' C code is hard to read, but most of these folks aren't really trying. Pick up the winners of the International Obfuscated C Code Contest (IOCCC) to see what really awful C looks like. The archive, available on ftp://ftp.uu.net/pub/ioccc, contains a decade worth of truly unreadable submissions.

And, for the commecially oriented folks among us, I suggest http://www.athenanow.com/cgi-bin/engine.cgi as a sure-fire way to catch up on the hottest new companies in the computer industry. Not.

No listing of "The Worst..." would be complete without a mention of "The Nixon Envelope". Visit http://gate.cruzio.com/~tricky/ to see a really tricky envelope design.