A burst of ideas for spring

John Gushue
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It might have been that extra hour of daylight in the evening, or maybe it was the suddenly milder weather of the last few days. Whatever caused it, this week I had the sensation of wanting to get out of the house, to stretch my legs, to open up the windows and let some fresh air blow through the house. This week, some sites to help you get geared up for spring even if (as we all know) spring in Newfoundland is more of a concept than a reality.

Sunrise-Sunset Calculator


Im an early riser somewhere between 5 oclock and 5:40 most mornings so I was getting used to seeing the sun break through just as I was hitting my morning stride. This years early start to Daylight Saving Time has pushed that back, although I quite like this business of seeing the sun set well past 7 oclock. The Sunrise-Sunset Calculator, a tool from the National Research Council, will give you applicable times for major centres across the country (although it wisely advises that you do your own DST modifications).

Wake up with Jeeves


Jeeves the too-impeccable valet created by P.G. Wodehouse has found new life: in an alarm clock. Actor and writer Stephen Fry (who pretty much defined Jeeves in the British TV series, with a pre-House Hugh Laurie playing Bertie) has lent his voice to a clock that is programmed with a few dozen pre-recorded gems. Before the nuisance of beeps, youll hear Jeeves rouse Sir from sleep with the gentlest of mocking nudges. Im not inclined to order one (my blaring alarm clock will do), but I laughed listening to the various samples.



From Random Good Stuff, a free game that a). is great for wasting a minute or two and b). actually has some redeeming qualities to boot. Therefore, not a genuine waste of your time! The game is simple: a number appears on the right side of the screen.

Your task is to pick numerals in the big box on the left that add up to that number. Solve it and then the next number pops up, and you continue along. Sounds easy, and it is although youll learn that its best not to blow off all those smaller numbers too quickly.

Cest La Vie Word of the Week podcast


Bernard St-Laurent hosts a weekly program on CBC Radio called Cest La Vie; I dont always get to hear it, but I dont miss the weekly Word of the Week podcast. It runs about five minutes or so, and its a great way for an Anglo such as myself to learn something about the nuances of French vocabulary. Recent examples have included debout, pointe and bois; without fail, its the variety of ways of using the selected words that make the feature so compelling.

Blue Ball Machine


This is a fine example of how a simple bit of programming can still be spellbinding. Blue Ball Machine is merely an animated GIF but its so much more dramatic than, say, the tacky burning flames and such that you used to see on homemade websites a decade or so ago. The page looks like a complicated bit of engineering and it does suck you in. It doesnt hurt that the soundtrack in the background (a few bars from the soundtrack of Pee-Wees Big Adventure) adds to a mesmerizing effect.

Icon Archive


Maybe it was a Mac thing, but I used to love switching around the icons I used to identify the programs and files on my old computer. Lately and I dont know if its cruising into the dullness of midlife, or because mainly I use PCs these days Ive been making do with boring, plain icons to launch my programs. If youre game to juice things up, try out the endless array of top-shelf icons available here. Usually, theres no charge (unless youre planning to use them for commercial reasons).

John Gushue is a news writer for CBC.ca in St. Johns. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surfs Up columns and daily updates at his blog: http://johngushue.typepad.com

Organizations: Sunrise-Sunset Calculator, National Research Council, House Hugh Laurie CBC Radio Pee-Wees Big Adventure

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Blue Ball

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