From pandemics to pop music

John Gushue
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I sometimes like to think our lives are compartmentalized, that our moments are in little segments, distinct from one another. This week, though, everything seemed to be in a blur; I was reading, for instance, about the gritty details of swine flu while juggling some work duties, tidying up my desk, answering e-mails, and grinning at a hilarious video that a friend sent to me.
That's our always-on, ever-digital life. This week, some of the sites that have been on my screens, sometimes all together.
• Outbreaks Map
With swine flu is dominating headlines this week, here's an online tool that helps to better understand what's going on, and where. The swine flu crisis has, in fact, prompted this site to sweep away other diseases, and focus solely on reports of the flu outbreak, on a global basis.
• Community Food Sharing Association
Christmas is months away, Easter has passed … there aren't obvious signs at the moment to donate to the local food bank. All the same, it's always a good time to visit the Community Food Sharing Association site; hunger, after all, doesn't take breaks. The site opens with rapid-fire statistics. You can learn more about the facts, if you like, or look for ways to donate your money, food or time. A shopping list, which includes staples that food banks will always accept, should be incorporated into our shopping routines.
• Muvibee
Music fan? Like videos? You can go to Google or straight to YouTube to search for tunes, if you like, but you may want to bookmark Muvibee. I bet you'll be more satisfied with what you get, to boot. Muvibee scans multiple sites and presents its findings in a nice, clean template that's easy to use.
• Boomshine
A game that perfectly fits the amount of time you're waiting on hold, or even just waiting for a voicemail greeting to wind up so you can leave a message. This is a multi-stage Flash-based game; the idea is to drop a ball into the playing field, hoping that it will start a chain reaction that will clear other balls. One point: it's actually pretty addictive, and that very short period of time you may have wanted to spend on it can turn, in no time, to quite a few minutes, as you move along to more and more challenging levels.
• 10 Misconceptions about the Vikings
Where was this site 10 years ago? As Newfoundland and Labrador was getting ready to celebrate the Viking Millennium (remember that one), I found myself correcting people about things - they didn't wear horned helmets, the raping and pillaging stuff wasn't true and they didn't plunder any more than anyone else. I was finally hoarse by the time the tourism splash finally arrived. Anyway, the facts get straightened here.
• Drum kit, by keyboard
With 26 letters, this game gives you 26 sounds … and not all from a drum kit. You'll also get some keyboard samples, effects and vocal yelps; enough to put together a bunch of noises suitable for the dance club, or just a short break from work.
• Podcast Bunker, tweeted
Podcast Bunker is a terrific resource, and has been for years. Here's the problem, though: while people like me know it and have used it, we forget about it and the fact that it consistently points to terrific audio material on the web. My appreciation has been renewed through its Twitter feed, which not only incorporates into my regular reading, but gives me to-the-minute news of updates of news-oriented material.

John Gushue is a news writer for in St. John's. E-mail: Blog: Twitter:

Organizations: Community Food Sharing Association, Google

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's

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