Surfworthy summer

OK, it’s summer – the season well-known for its car camping, Bomb Pops, marathon Roller Blading sessions, stylish front porch hibachi cookouts and hundreds of other great outdoorsy pursuits.

But hey, you’ve got plenty of time for all that … it’s not even August yet.

So head back inside. Power up the laptop. Kickstart the iMac. Warm boot your Pentium III … and let’s go surfing instead.

Yes, it’s time once again for another patented installment of the Netropolis Cybersurvey Edition: Your wise and dependable guide to what’s truly Web-fresh. Guaranteed clickworthy, even when it’s sunny and 73 degrees.


Collecting Pez dispensers. Psychotherapy for your cat. Militia movement as alternative lifestyle choice. No question about it; the Web has an uncanny way of uncovering some pretty strange pursuits. But the companion page for Canadian-based "Infiltration: The ’zine about going places you’re not supposed to go" ( may win the award for Web site that’s the most wacked (in a good way, mind you).

Infiltration is dedicated to the art of "urban exploration," which can be loosely defined as breaking into abandoned buildings, steam tunnels and other related off-limits structures just to poke around. (Sounds a lot like Web surfing to me, but I digress.)

You’ll uncover a variety of treasures here. There’s a FAQ on exploring underground drainage systems, the Infilspeak urban exploration dictionary of terms, and even compelling essays about trespassing onto all kinds of publicly inaccessible or long-forgotten properties such as four-star hotel basements, the Paris catacombs (sans tour guide) and some place called the Canada Malting Plant.

And lest you think this is some sort of insignificant fringe hobby, the Infiltration site also serves as launching point into an entire Web ring (a loose affiliation of related Web destinations) of urban exploration. You’ll find nearly 50 interconnected links that include a great page entitled "Forgotten Detroit" (featuring our own beloved Michigan Central Depot train station).

All aboard.


Whether it’s yet another meticulously researched online homage to Phantom Menace, or just your run-of-the-mill unauthorized Jennifer Love-Hewitt photo shrine, the ubiquitous fan site remains a staple of Net culture. And while we’re on the subject of Detroit, our own Motor City has recently collected a couple of fresh Web-based admirers.

The Pro Detroit City site is an endearing collection of pictures (check out the detailed diagram for Tiger Stadium’s proposed "ballpark-turned-Vic Tanny" preservation project) and links, as well as some refreshingly optimistic commentary sure to warm any car town lover’s heart.

"People in Detroit are – or at least usually seem – happy," Pro Detroit’s young Web master begins in a section called simply "People," "They say hi when you walk by instead of just snubbing you off."

The De-twa site (pronounced "day-twah" for those recently returning from a tunnel tour in France) is a bit less poetic, but makes up for it with great community content. Self-described "Internet guy" and site creator Andrew Koper has provided a veritable online welcome wagon designed to "bring the best of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, etc. to Detroit."

You’ll find useful sections on housing, job leads, career tips and even a photo tour honoring some of Detroit’s neatest abandoned houses.


If you’re like me, you read Wired Magazine fairly regularly, just to keep current. And, like me, perhaps you’ve even been caught quoting the latest issue at cocktail parties, in a vain attempt to win friends and influence people. But if you’re anything like me (and if you’ve read this far, you might be), you hate Wired’s self-important, elitist techno-babble with a passion.

Well, rejoice, weary Wired readers. There is a better way. Meet Shift magazine, yet another unique and wonderful offering from our friends to the north (Canada, that is). Shift is everything Wired is not. It’s inclusive (as opposed to exclusive). Smart (as opposed to smarmy). And compared to Wired’s often obtuse writing style (uncomfortably similar to reading a VCR instruction manual), Shift is downright easy and fun to read.

Plus, Shift is delightfully subversive. What Wired is to, say, Fortune magazine, Shift is to fellow Canadian culture-jamming quarterly Adbusters (who, by the way, have a great little site at

One example: Shift’s recent cover story, "Beat the system!," features 16 pages of scams and underground tricks including how to cheat at video games, ways to surf the Web anonymously and where to get your hands on real spy technology (such as an umbrella stun gun). And unlike its pompous American cousin, most articles in Shift are printed in a typeface that doesn’t require a high-powered magnifying glass to read.

If this sounds intriguing, check out Shift on the Web. You’ll find selected articles from current and past issues, as well as a secure Web subscription form for the magazine.

Subscriptions to Shift magazine are $17.97 (Canadian) for 1 year (9 issues).

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