To lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason.  To move or go in a mean, stealthy manner.

Wednesday October 27, 1999

WebSkulker Newsletter
Skulk not, lest ye be skulked

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WebSkulker was on vacation

For those jr. skulkers who just subscribed or missed the special issue last Saturday, WebSkulker was on a brief vacation to Portland, OR, and didn't publish issues on Monday or Tuesday.  Lest you think that this was because WebSkulker doesn't carry a notebook computer and couldn't do the newsletter remotely, no, that wasn't the reason.  The truth is that his cat writes the newsletter by dictating the text to WebSkulker, but she stayed home and couldn't type well enough to do it on her own.

If you ever get to Portland, you should visit the Oaks Park Skating Rink whose web site is:

The web site is boring, but the roller skating rink itself is fascinating because it is the only one left in the U.S. that still has an original WurliTzer pipe organ with a live organist playing old songs while the people skate.  WebSkulker didn't skate because he would have made a fool of himself, but he listened to the music and videotaped about an hour of the organist playing.  Seriously, if you ever to go Portland, you should check this place out.  They rent skates and provide instruction.  Most of the skaters were kids having fun, but not particularly good.  Several old timers, however, were in old-fashioned costumes and were gliding around the floor like pros.

One other fascinating thing about this skating rink is that the floor has pontoons on the bottom and can float if need be.  Why?  Because the rink is right next to a river that floods every few years and several feet of water get in the building.  The wooden floor would be ruined by the water and would be too expensive to replace, so as an experiment some time back the Army Corp of Engineers volunteered to send divers under the building to fasten pontoons to the bottom.  They then went around the whole floor with a Skill saw and cut it free from the rest of the building.  It worked: the floor floated up many feet in the air as the river flooded into the building, and the skating surface was saved.  When the river receded and the floor settled down, they sealed up the crack around the edge. 

Free long distance for jr. skulkers with good connections

This site, suggested by Jr. Skulker Joy, lets you make unlimited free long distance calls to any telephones in the U.S., but using your PC and the Internet at your end.  If you have a very fast connection to the Internet via a cable modem or DSL line, you might actually find this useful; otherwise it is a great thing to play with, but the quality will be too bad to use much.  Unlike other free Internet long distance sites, this one doesn't require Netmeeting or any other software to be installed; it works with a Java applet that gets loaded automatically when you start to make a call.

For best results with this or any Internet connection service, you should use a headset plugged into your computer's microphone and speaker jacks to avoid feedback and get more of a feel of a regular phone call.  If you don't find the quality to be good enough for a phone call to a person, you might still want to use this to listen to recordings in other cities.

WebSkulker gets free Internet while traveling

WebSkulker has a DSL line with a local ISP who has dial-up service only in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Most people in California with DSL lines use Pacific Bell as their ISP, which only has free dial-up numbers in California.  Cable modem ISP's usually don't have dial-up numbers at all.  So what is a skulker to do when traveling away from home and the high-speed line?  It seems like a shame to subscribe to one of the big nationwide ISP's and pay a fee every month just for the occasional use while traveling.

The answer?  Several companies now provide totally free dial-up Internet access if you are willing to have a little window open all the time at the bottom of your screen showing ads.  We have been using the one from AltaVista for the last couple of trips and it works quite well.  Go to the above link and download the software, then run it whenever you want to get connected.  They have 56 kb phone numbers all over the U.S. including parts of Alaska and Hawaii.  The service seems quite reliable and fast -- as fast as 56 kb can be after getting used to a DSL line!

You don't have to travel to use this service.  If you are willing to watch ads all the time, you can use this as your normal ISP.  They have no limits on the amount of time you can be online for free, but they do force you to look at an advertisers or Alta Vista web site maybe every hour, or it will hang up the connection.  The window with the ads has a "health meter" that gradually runs down to remind you to click on something.

For jr. skulkers who are bored

This site has over 200 jigsaw puzzles that you solve through a JAVA applet. Choose today's puzzle, or one of the others from the gallery, and a difficulty level ranging from 12 zigzag-shaped pieces up to 240 square pieces. The picture will be cut up into the specified count and type of pieces and presented to you in a virtual heap looking just like a real puzzle dumped out of the box. You then drag pieces around with your mouse looking for matching pieces. When you get the matching edges close enough, they will merge into one bigger piece with a satisfying thud in your speakers. Keep doing this until the puzzle is solved.

One big difference from a real puzzle: there is no command to rotate a piece, which means that all of the pieces dumped on the heap happen to all be in the correct direction; you just drag them around. Still this can be fun if you are bored and don't have anything to skulk at the moment.

This made WebSkulker laugh

Submitted by Jr. Skulker Michael Cohen

Three convicts were on the way to prison. They were each allowed to take one item with them to help them occupy their time whilst stuck behind bars. On the bus, one turned to another and said, "So, what did you bring?"

The second convict pulled out a box of paints and stated that he intended to paint anything he could. He wanted to become the "Grandma Moses of Jail."  Then he asked the first, "What did you bring?"

The first convict pulled out a deck of cards and said, "I brought cards. I can play poker, solitaire and gin, and any number of games."  The third convict was sitting quietly aside grinning to himself.  The other two took notice and asked, "Why are you so smug? What did you bring?"

The guy pulled out a box of tampons and smiled. "I brought these."  The other two were puzzled and asked, "What can you do with those?"  He pointed to the box and said, "Well according to the box, I can go horseback riding, swimming, roller-skating..."

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This newsletter is copyrighted 1999 by The WebSkulker.  You may use any material in this issue for any reason provided that you attribute it to the WebSkulker Newsletter and include the URL to our web site: .