Tangled Web

From corny videos to email jokes and cutsie animal photos, Southland Times online editor and internet columnist Jillian Allison-Aitken tours the wonders of the (often) weird wide web.

Video: Impressive synchronisation

09:57pm 29 May 2014


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Video: Channelling ol' blue eyes

12:25pm 21 May 2014


This week's video features an amazingly talented 7-year-old Norwegian girl who has got a healthy dose of old-school cool going on as she channels her inner Frank Sinatra.

Enjoy her smokey tones as you get your head around the fact that she wasn't even born when ol' blue eyes died.

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Our new national holiday?

12:25pm 19 May 2014


As a nation, we've shown enthusiasm for adopting certain American "holidays" that are decidedly pointless, so I reckon it's time to take on something a tad more practical: National Zipper Day.

We seem to have embraced the sappy Valentine's Day hype and are more than happy to encourage our kids to go door-to-door in search of lollies from strangers, so let's give the humble zipper some love? We've missed out this year but perhaps we should start a campaign to have the April 29 day of honour for our metal- toothed beauties go international.

We could even make it a public holiday, something to round out the Easter/Anzac package and to keep us ticking over until Queen's Birthday.

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At last, a move that's worth tweeting about

05:00am 16 May 2014


There are times when I wish real life offered the same opportunities and options available to us online, and the arrival of the "mute" button on Twitter is one of those times.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still not a huge fan of Twitter and it's disjointed, truncated discussions. Maybe it's a sign of old age, or (even more likely), lack of patience, but I prefer the tidily tied together, threaded conversations that Facebook provides. Sure, there is the whole issue of your privacy being thrown out the window, but if you overlook that minor hiccup, Facebook is nearly perfect. If you don't mind the constantly changing user interface, the ever increasing array of ads, the aforementioned privacy issue and the frequent scam attempts by people pretending to be your friends.

Even with all that, I still prefer it over Twitter (disclaimer: Yes, I use Twitter, but I really just feed it with automated posts from my blogs).

However, this week Twitter has done something useful. No, the site's "fail whale" (the illustration that appears in Twitter's error message when the site is overloaded) hasn't been given a makeover. Instead, users now have the option of using the "mute" button to block posts from people they don't want to hear from.

My initial thought was that it could be a useful feature for those who don't want to hear the "I'm a genius" ramblings of the likes of Kanye West, but then I figured it would be just as easy to simply not follow them in the first place. However, according to Twitter, muting someone not only stops any messages they tweet from appearing in the timeline of whoever hit the virtual mute button, it also means push or text messages from muted Twitter accounts will not be delivered. However, other people will still be able to see, retweet, or comment on Twitter posts of those who have muted them.

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Some useful stuff at your fingertips

05:00am 01 May 2014


There's more to the internet than Facebook and Google, and some of those other gazillion or so sites are actually pretty useful.

And no, I'm not talking about free porn or sites offering tips on the latest bondage techniques (although, I have heard that the reason men find women dressed in leather so exciting is because they have that "new car" smell).

My focus this week is all about a small but tasteful selection of slightly less-mainstream but useful tips and websites that you may never have heard of - because free and useful is really way better than free and porn. Truly.

Google is the king of useful and packed with hidden tricks. Most of us probably know about the results of typing "do a barrel roll", "tilt" or "askew" into Google search, but there are other, more practical, options that Google has to offer.

If you're in need of a calculator, just type your equation into the search box and Google's handy-dandy calculator will magically appear on your screen with the answer.

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