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Time to Spare

November 02, 2000|MICHELLE MALTAIS | michelle.maltais@latimes.com

OK, so daylight saving time is over. You scored a whole hour more. If you haven't already slept it away, what should you do with all that free time? Here are a few ideas for where you can waste some time online.

First, there's dial-a-diversion at http://www.phonespell.org. Remember the good ol' days, before text messaging, when folks used numbers to spell out or indicate phrases? Well, this is a throwback to that. You enter a six- to 10-digit phone number to see what words and phrases the number spells. Or you can type in letters to see the corresponding phone number. In addition to spelling LATIMES, this newspaper's toll-free number could be memorized as 5-AT-GODS.

While you're having fun with numbers and probably dreaming of what exotic locations you'd visit--or buy--if you had won that $87-million lottery prize, check out http://www.timezoneconverter.com. Here, you can find out what time it is in a given country or city. It notes whether the region follows daylight saving time. And for your carrying pleasure, the site includes a printable reference card. You can customize it by choosing all the time zones you're interested in before printing it.

And since you've begun to ponder vacation spots, why not torment yourself further by looking up how far you are from your chosen land at http://www.indo.com/distance. The site calculates the distance between many locations.

Say you're dreaming of a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Los Angeles--it doesn't do the distance to Negril. After you type in both locations, the site would tell you that "as the crow flies," it is 2,710 miles, or 2,355 nautical miles. It also links you to sites that give driving directions and maps. Plus you can find such details as the population and elevation of each location.

Want to take a real look at it? You can get a satellite's view at http://dlp.cs.berkeley.edu/gis3/examples/dli2_sites.html. With this site, data speed is key because the GIS viewer applet takes awhile to load. It requires Java 1.1.5 to run and works with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher, Netscape Navigator 4.07 or higher and HotJava 1.1.4.

While we're on the subject of travel and data speed, ever wonder who is affected by seemingly interminable online speed bumps? Get a traffic report at http://www.internettrafficreport.com, which monitors the flow of data around the world. It ranks flow on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the value, the faster and more reliable the connections.

If you're checking Web traffic, you might just be a slacker. Well, slackers unite! ISBW, or IShouldBeWorking.com, at http://www.ishouldbeworking.com/useless.htm, offers links to an array of potentially useless, time-consuming activities, such as Name That Candybar or finding out when the next thousandth day of your life is. There are also games and news, if you're into that sort of thing.

And if you're doing this on company time, you'd better have quick fingers--to switch to a suitable work-related screen. They say time is money. So how much is that extra hour worth? How much is your workday really worth? You can calculate that at http://www.webwinder.com/wwhtmbin/java_rhw.html with the money-to-time calculator.

For all you interested in the high court, you can spend that extra hour or so reading up on decisions of the Supremes--the ones in the robes, not sequins. Check out http://www.supremecourtus.gov/calendar/argument_trans.html to get what's happened in the October Term 2000.

And for those tired of returning that extra hour in spring, there's a "modest proposal" to end the biannual setting and resetting of the clock. A group is trying to tick away at daylight saving time. Check out http://www.standardtime.com for the details on the movement and to take the DST quiz.

You know, that hour could have been spent visiting sites that help with productivity and organization. But be honest--you weren't all that productive anyway before you had that extra hour.

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Michelle Maltais is a broadcast producer and copy editor for The Times.

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Connect: Check out other Click Here columns at http://www.latimes.com/click

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