- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 29, 2006

Each week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Bluffed on the Web

Answers.com (www.answers.com), the encyclopedic almanac disguised as a search engine, has added an addictive online quiz as a new way to stimulate knowledge seekers. The company has released Blufr.com (www.blufr.com), a sort of nerdy little brother of the information portal that dares visitors to try to answer a stream of trivia questions culled from 3 million pages of facts.

The site name is a bit confusing, as no real bluffing is involved. Rather, the visitor reacts to an unlimited number of true-or-false statements with a click on the very “Wayne’s World” buttons “way!” and “no way!”

Statements are pulled from nearly every imaginable subject and range from “Glass is technically a liquid” to “Future Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro was once given a tryout by the Washington Senators baseball team” to “The total combined weight of the world’s ant population is heavier than the weight of the human population.”

After clicking a response, the player not only finds out how he did compared to other geniuses around the cyber-world, but also gets an explanation of the correct answer along with links to more Answer.com resources.

For example, it is true that after breaking up with girlfriend Winona Ryder, actor Johnny Depp had his “Winona Forever” tattoo changed to “Wino Forever.” The entry that pops up after the player gives a response includes links to both actors as well as definitions for “actor” and “tattoos.”

Blufr.com also enables Web designers to add specific or random bluffs to their site with a small amount of “cut and paste” code.

In another initiative, the site’s home page also offers a daily multiple-choice spelling bee, and Windows users can download a clever piece of software, Click Answers 2.0, that enables them to alt-click on any word in any program and get a pop-up window with reference materials.

Information Super Speedway

Will Ferrell takes the doofus role once again as the star of Sony Pictures’ “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” The NASCAR spoof, opening Friday, offers quite an interactive drive through its official Web site (https://sonypictures.com/movies/talladeganights/site/index1.html).

After an introduction to the comedy’s principals, revealed through large image cutouts of the actors that hover above the active Talladega race track, visitors can immediately leave behind the mundane “about the movie” information and get themselves personalized race-car nicknames. I’m now Joe the Jackhammer, and a code allows any Web, blog or MySpace designer to post a banner that lets the world know of his or her new moniker.

A second place for mindless fun can be found at the Fast Track, where the main character, Ricky Bobby, first reminds drivers that “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” The driving simulation has the player sit in the stock car and through a first-person perspective zoom through three laps on an oval course against six other vehicles. The driver has a rearview mirror to peek at who is gaining and can accelerate, brake and turn to try to get past the competition.

The mighty Ricky Bobby also has his own Web site (www.sonypictures. com/movies/rickybobby/index.php), which pays tribute to the movie-made legend via multiple activities and downloads.

One of the more entertaining is the Autograph Game, in which the player must sign as much stuff as possible before entering the victory lane. The mouse pointer becomes a pen to add Ricky’s name to a strange set of items, such as a fish, a baby’s head and a sumo wrestler’s chest. The more items signed in the allotted time, the more the player is loved by the fans.

The site also enables visitors to install a Ricky “Bobbyhead” bobblehead (PC only), view letters to Ricky, print Ricky decals and Shrinky Dinks, collect virtual trading cards of Ricky and his team, and join the Ricky fan club to get a signed membership certificate.

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com). Joseph also writes a Web-exclusive column for The Washington Times Web site, where he reviews educational software and family-friendly video games. Check it out at www.washingtontimes.com/family times/romperroom.htm.

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