10 Fun Things You Can Do on the Internet - dummies

10 Fun Things You Can Do on the Internet

By John R. Levine, Margaret Levine Young

You can use the Internet in hundreds of ways for work and profit. Here are a few things you can do on the web if you are just looking for a fun way to spend your afternoon.

Share pictures and videos with your friends and family

Email attachments are an excellent way to ship snapshots anywhere in the world for free. If you have more than one or two pictures or videos and you want to share them with more than one or two people, making an online photo album is the convenient way to go.

Or, create an account at Flickr or Picasa Web Albums, upload your photo and video files, and tell the site who else can see them. You can also use Instagram and Snapchat.

Watch movies, TV, and ads

The Internet has created a new way for makers of short and experimental movies to find an audience. The most popular is Google’s YouTube, whose users upload vast amounts of video. You can upload your own videos, too, as long as you follow YouTube guidelines. TED Talks are short lectures about Technology, Education, and Design, and are almost always interesting.

Hulu puts television on the web, so you can watch early episodes of shows that you tuned in partway through.

Blip.tv hosts shows you may never have heard of because they’re made by independent creators. If you belong to Netflix, you can stream videos from its website and watch them on your computer, tablet, TV or phone.

ISpot.tv features the best current ads and classics.

Listen to current and classic radio programs

National Public Radio and Public Radio International in the United States keep many of their past programs available online. You can also use the sites’ search features to browse for stories you missed completely. Some radio shows have their own websites, such as Car Talk and This American Life.


Play checkers or bridge

Or play chess, poker, hearts, backgammon, cribbage, go, or any other board game or card game. The classic games hold up well against the ever more bloody electronic games. If you used to play Diplomacy, try playdiplomacy.com.

True bridge aficionados like to think of bridge not as a card game but, rather, as a way of life. You can round up a bridge foursome at bridgebase.com (for free) and okbridge.com ($99 per year after a free trial period). Many free and fee sites are listed at greatbridgelinks.com.

Play lots more online games

You can find willing gaming partners at any time of the day or night at sites such as games.yahoo.com, www.games.com, and Microsoft’s zone.msn.com.

Other good sites for both single-person and multiplayer games are addictinggames.com and virtualnes.com for re-created classic Nintendo games.

Words with Friends enables you to play a Scrabble-like word game with friends and strangers. Download the app for your smartphone or tablet.

Find out what your stuff is worth

You can use eBay to find out the value of almost anything — at least, anything that has sold on eBay in the past 90 days — by searching completed eBay auctions.

You need an eBay account in order to search completed auctions, so register for a free account if you don’t already have one. Then click the Advanced Search link. Type key words about your priceless treasure into the Search bar and select the Completed Listings check box. When you click the Search button, you see all auctions with those keywords and the item’s final selling price.

Build your own jumbo jet

Airbus builds airplanes, including the very, very, very large A380 superjumbo. Normally, an A380 lists for $300 million, but if that number is a little out of your price range, or you don’t have space for one in your garage, Airbus Goodies has some paper versions you can print, cut out, fold, and fly. It also has some nice screen wallpaper pictures.

Visit art museums around the world

Art museums are interesting places to spend rainy afternoons. Now you can visit museums and galleries all over the world by using your browser. Some favorites include the Louvre in Paris, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Check out the amazing American Memory collection of historical photos.


Tour the Earth

The modestly named Google Earth downloadable program lets you fly around the earth and zoom in and out. After you get fairly close to the ground, you find links to pictures contributed by users, Wikipedia links, and enough to keep you busy for hours.

Or, check out Google Maps Street View: Visit an urban area and click Street View.

Tour the solar system

In the last half of the 20th century, probes visited several comets and asteroids and every planet except Pluto. The probes sent back amazing pictures: storms on Jupiter, oceans on Europa, mudslides on Mars, and the Earth at night.

Here are some fascinating space sites:

Build your own world

Virtual worlds are electronic places you can visit on the web. You create a personal action figure, or avatar, that walks, talks, and emotes. When you’re in one of these worlds, your avatar interacts with the avatars of other people who are logged on in surroundings that range from quite realistic to truly fantastic.

The biggest, most successful online worlds are World of Warcraft, which costs money, and RuneScape, which is free.

Read the comics

Why get newsprint ink on your hands just to read your favorite comic strip? Ours are

GoComics has lots of other comic strips, including vintage Peanuts strips.

Share your screen with a friend

If you’re doing something interesting on your computer, or if you need a friend’s help to make your computer cooperate, you can allow your friend to see your screen. Many video chat programs also provide screen sharing, including Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom.