Computer distractions

This column could have been entitled “Why I almost didn’t get my column written on time this week.”

I’m usually pretty disciplined, but sometimes I just have too much fun. Here’s what distracted me. I hope you have some fun, too.

Radio Garden

When I was a kid, I used to stay up late with the lights off in my bedroom and listen to Jean Shepherd telling stories on WOR-AM. 

When I left the area, I would stay up late slowly turning the dial on my AM radio, tuning in stations from far away, listening to different music, listening to people with different accents.

I loved radio when it wasn’t all the same.

I was delighted to find Radio Garden, a website where you can spin a globe and listen to radio stations from all around the world. Point your browser here.

 "The main idea is to help radio makers and listeners connect with distant cultures and re-connect with people from home and thousands of miles away," according to Jonathan Puckey, one of the people behind the site

You can do that by clicking on Live near the top of the window. That will play a station in your area. Move the globe and put your cursor on a green dot to hear something farther away. You’ll see the country of origin, a station identifier and local time. 

Play around a little with the History, Jingles, and Stories choices if you’d like to time travel.


Google Autodraw makes it ridiculously easy for people like me, who can’t draw, to draw simple, recognizable objects.

Visit the website on your computer, tablet or phone. Start drawing, and look at the top of the screen.

Autodraw is good at guessing what you’re trying to draw. Scroll sideways through the choices and click on the one you want. Boom. You have a bicycle or a dog, or a chicken. Change the colour or size. Add some text. Share or save your image. Or throw it away. That works too.

Google Search Games

Want to play a quick game of Solitaire or Tic-Tac-Toe?

Open a browser to the Google Search page, and search the game you want to play. Play! You can do this on your phone in line at the supermarket checkout! You can do this while you’re on hold for Shaw Cable. 

These aren’t full-featured, beautiful games but they will get you through 10 minutes of waiting around.

The best Google Search Game I’ve found so far is Atari Breakout. It’s a classic, and I remember it from 1972. Read about it here.

Breakout was a huge upgrade from Pong, which you had to go to a bar to play for a quarter a game, sitting at a gigantic table.

You can play it in your browser. This time, go to Google Image Search, and type in Atari breakout.

You’ll soon find yourself in the game, trying to break through a wall of blocks. And the blocks are made of images. This is so awesome. And, yes, you can turn off the sound. Click on the speaker icon near the top of the window.

You’re welcome.

What do you play to pass the time? What music or radio do you listen to online? Send an email to [email protected] and I’ll share your tips in a future column.


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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