New York unravelled and your digital gear explained

John Gushue
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This week we deconstruct Manhattan without touching a brick, we find out where the geeks go for their technical help (the rest of us are welcome, too) and I'll introduce you to a point-and-click game that might lead you to waste the better part of an afternoon. That is, if you fall prey to it the same way I did.
Let's start with the Big Apple.
• Manhattan Transformations
We're planning a short autumn trip to New York City, so my eye naturally turns to all things Noo Yawk these days. Manhattan Transformations is a very different way of looking at some of the world's most famous real estate, through the use of computer modelling that breaks apart how the city that never sleeps was built, down to its wiring and including piers, bridges and thousands of other bits of infrastructure. Pretty cool.
• Zolved
From cellphones to iPods to DVD players to laptops … our homes are filling up with digital gear like never before. Figuring them out should be easy, but getting the most of them can take time and knowhow. Zolve is a site for solutions to all kinds of questions, like getting the songs on your iPod onto your PC, instead of vice versa. The tone is more than a little geeky, but don't be thrown.
• Shadez
Earlier this month, I spent an unconscionable amount of time one weekend getting hooked on this game. (More than two hours, truth be told.) It's a pretty straightforward game, and not unlike plenty of others of so-called strategy games: your objective is to get your armies constantly across a horizontal battlefield, without losing any of your health points. (I've never fired a real weapon, but that doesn't stop me from getting caught up in these sorts of games. Go figure.) The game offers a fast-forward function, which does increase the rate of play significantly … but also means you have to be on your toes to keep new troops, tanks, choppers, etc., on the move.
• How to Embalm a Body
For the online magazine "The Morning News," writer Nicole Pasulka took on an assignment many reporters would definitely pass on. She shadowed a New Jersey funeral director as a corpse was put through the embalming process. Not something you would want to read over breakfast, say, but you may find it as fascinating a read as I did.
• 3D Logic
Here's a game you can play while you're on hold, or have a moment or two for a break. You're given three sides of a cube, and your job is to connect the tiles along a colour pattern. You advance a level every time you find a solution, and solving one can be done in as little time as it takes to leave a voicemail.
• Bembo's Zoo
You won't see any animals at this zoo … but you'll hear them. It's a Flash-based feature that presents a whole alphabet; as you mouse around each letter, you'll hear a different noise. Your kids, and maybe even you, will get a wee delight from orchestrating a cacophony. (You may want to keep the volume down, as I learned!)
• Life-Size Blue Whale
Most of us will never see a blue whale in the wild. This site gives a little lesson on just how vast blue whales are, and you won't have to go farther than your computer screen for a look. Use your mouse to drag a small rectangle over the body of a whale, and then see the backdrop change. An interesting lesson in marine biology, and ecology; click through for links to the sponsor, the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
John Gushue is a news writer for in St. John's. E-mail: Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog:

Organizations: Big Apple, Morning News, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Geographic location: New York City, Manhattan, New Jersey Bembo St. John's

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