The Saratoga Sun -

Surfing wipeouts and other internet mishaps


In celebration of our new website and its attractive new functionality and cool new features at the old site name ( – look at me towing the company line!). I thought I might delve into some fun tidbits about the web that I browsed across.

Did I mention that we have a NEW website?

We all know the main use of the internet (at least arguably) and GoOgle will get you there, but there are other handy uses for the web too.


Have you heard about this e-mail thing? Turns out this beats faxing hands down as a speedy and clear way to communicate the written word. Unfortunately, I now am forced to have and use an arcane and magical device known as a “spam filter”.

What about online shopping? While surfing (sounds more fun than it is), I came across this website,, with all kinds of really cool things I didn’t previously know existed but now want.

I also hear tell of an oversized, one-breasted woman on the internet with books, movies and pretty much anything else you can think of.

You can even ues the internet to research information for your very own little blogs (Blog is short for web log—just in case you didn’t know).


One of the first things I came across in my dive into internet lore was a recent Newsweek article by Tony Dokoupil entitled “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?”. I found this article, oddly enough, not on the Newsweek website but on The Daily Beast.

The article doesn’t quite trumpet the great American crack-up but does say that after making us more productive in various ways the web may also be pushing us down the road towards stupidity, loneliness, depression, attention deficits and various psychoses.

One disturbing tale came from a Gizmodo article by Casey Chan “How One Man Faked His Own Internet Death” in which a man who had been a helpful, loving and long-time member of a “supportive” internet forum logged on as his own “wife” one day and announced that her “husband” had killed himself.

Later, after his pseudocide had been discovered by people who genuinely mourned him (the idiot was still posting on FrontofyourheadBook), he apologized for his “joke” and “bad experiment”. The title of this article had drawn me in (my mind whirling with Tom Sawyer-esque comic possibilities), but I only ended up dejected by some moron’s callous insensibilities.


I did find some articles that were amusing though. With a title like “Father Hires Virtual Hit Men To Assassinate Son in Online Video Games” how can you go wrong? This article is a touching tale of a concerned father in China.

What the father was concerned about was his unemployed son not looking for a job. Apparently, the deadbeat son was using the bulk of his waking time becoming exceedingly proficient at an online war game—to the point where he became very hard to kill. The understandably frustrated father came up with brilliant plan to hire higher-level virtual mercenaries to kill off his son every time his character appeared.

Eventually, the son got one of the virtual hit men to spill the beans and the son went on to continue his internet play. Maybe, if he keeps it up, he can hire out as an internet hit man himself.


There are some useful real-world internet uses and Chinese prisons seem to have found one. reports that Chinese prisoners, during time not spent in hard labor, are forced to “farm” virtual gold online.

In popular online games like World of Warcraft, performing certain actions (killing some character or completing a small task) earn players in-game currency. If done repetively (thousands of times in this case), it becomes what is known as “farming gold”.

This “gold” is then sold online for real-world currency to other players eager to grow their characters strength and wealth without completing the tedious tasks. In short order, guards at the mentioned prison learned that their 300 prisoners could earn them upwards of $1,000 a day—and they didn’t even have to share.


I know that subhead sounds like a disease that makes game players smoke crack cocaine but you’ll find out what it actually means right ... now.

In an online fun-for-purpose game developed by the University of Washington, players “unfold” one-dimensional molecular protein structures. In only three weeks, gamers deciphered the structure of an enzyme in an AIDS-like virus. This particular structure had previously eluded researchers for a decade. The extremely accurate three-dimensional model gamers came up with will now allow researchers to further understand the disease and begin developing new drugs designed to block the virus.

Maybe if we could turn that game into a maze in a war simulation we could get that first unemployed Chinese gamer a job. Seems to me using the brain power of couch potatoes is a good thing.

Like it or not, the internet is here to stay. The end result is, and will continue to be, as good and as bad as the sum of humanity contributing to it.

Hey, I have to at least try to be profound ... this is going on our new website now.


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