Ruby is a writer and entrepreneur. Her online expertise gives her a unique perspective on how to integrate technology into everyday life.
Stuff to do With the Internet of Things
Using the Internet to Cure Boredom
Never before have more people been trying to find fun things to do on the internet. Self-isolation is tiresome and we grow bored. Feeling pandemic weary we find ourselves looking for ways to reach out to others, learn new things, and keep up with the times. This list is designed to keep you busy while finding ways to entertain yourself, satisfy the desire to socialize, and /or feed the brain.
Places to Socialize Online for Free
Making online friends is a part of the new normal. Everyone is adapting to what may feel like dual social lives. We share the internet space together and are learning the best way to connect socially. Some like to chat with random people, but most people are trying to find a community.
This section covers some fun ways to locate new communities and make new friends. Try to find a place where you can connect with like-minded people. Remember to guard your personal information and think before you speak. Follow all community guidelines and read the TOS for any given platform or service.
- Join a new Discord server - Discord is the number one place to be on the internet if you are looking for a community. It is a place to swap pictures, videos, and memes. It is a place to find new friends. It is a place to find others to communicate with about topics you are interested in. If you want to stay in the know, this is the platform you need to use.
- Manage current discord servers and notifications - Once you discover discord you will likely join many channels. From time to time it is good to manage your channels and notifications. Think hard before leaving a discord channel. Instead, try tweaking your notifications so that you never miss content from your favorites.
- Try a YouTube live chat - You might be used to watching videos online, but increase the fun levels by interacting with live content. Click the link at the beginning of this to check out The Doe Show. This is a consistent streamer with frequent live chats on a wide variety of topics. Be mindful of what you say and make some new friends. Or use the YouTube search function and filter to only live videos to find one on a specific topic you are interested in.
- Check out a Twitch live chat - Twitch is an interactive live stream service. This platform has less extreme content and gives more control to the content producers making the videos. It is free to watch most free videos, but if you have an Amazon Prime membership you will have access to many more features.
- Experience Facebook live chat - Facebook also has its own live streaming service. Check it out if you are into that kind of thing.
- Get in on Zoom live chat - When people hear Zoom they think business and school. But the service does have free functions that can be used by anyone. You can use this service to create video chats with multiple participants.
- Virtual campfire - Once you get the hang of Zoom you will see the potential. Be creative and come up with fun ways to engage with friends and family. Try a virtual campfire. Place campfire footage in the middle and position each person around the edges. Then sit back and enjoy the conversation.
- Attend a Jewelry party - If you like jewelry and miss the shopping experience then try going to a jewelry party. This is a take on the tupperware parties of the days of old. Find a party with games, engagement, and a lively chat system. A good host will entertain you, create an atmosphere that builds community, and someone you can trust to buy from. I recommend trying Jessica's Jazzy Jewel's if you are looking for a fun way to buy jewelry, make friends, and have fun.
- Tool around on Reddit - Reddit is a discussion-based website that you might find in search results. The website uses a voting-based system to create the best post hierarchy. Some topics can be in a gray zone and sometimes a little extreme. But this website allows users to use their freedom of speech while exchanging ideas with others.
- Ask or answer questions on Quora - Quora is an information-sharing website. Due to the nature of the site, this is a more friendly site to exchange ideas. If you have questions to ask or need answers this could be a good place to spend some time.
- Enjoy a Watch party with friends - Most of the popular video services and discord offer the ability to watch movies with friends. They call this having a watch party. It's a great way to enjoy a movie with someone during isolation.
- Socialize on Yubo - Yubo is a socialization app for just having fun and making new friends. This is an app to check out if you are missing having small-talk.
- Check out free online counseling - If you really feel like you need to talk to someone look into online counseling. While many sites and apps charge for this service, some are covered by insurance and some are free. This suggestion is linked to eTherapyPro, which is a good place to start.
- Find an overseas pen pal - If you miss the old days when it was common to have a pen pal then check out Airtripp, by KiHeitai inc, this app connects people with overseas pen pals.
- Try web-based chat rooms - If you like old-school IRC-Type chat rooms where chat is embedded check out 321 chat, but be very careful not to share personal information in this type of chat.
- Join Snapchat - Snapchat is more popular than you probably think it is. It is also one of the video chat platforms which offers potential monetary rewards for short video clips. Check you Snapchat's Spotlight program, and you may be surprised how they reward their users.
Keeping up With Sports on the Web
Current Events on the Web
The days of having to rely on mainstream media for current events are over. You can still get your news that way, but now there are many new ways to find out what is happening in the world. Live streaming creates the opportunity for citizen journalists to show us the news as it is happening, unfiltered, and without corporate bias.
Try these suggestions to find new ways to learn about what is happening in the world around us. Here is a list of places to find current events online.
- Keep up with Sports Illustrated - Sports enthusiasts have probably heard of this media powerhouse. Once one of the most popular magazines, it is now a popular online publication. Want the most accurate online sports information? Then this is the site for you.
- Stay current on tectonics with Dutchsinse - If you are interested in earthquakes, then the guy you need to know is Michael Janitch from St. Louis, Missouri. He is on YouTube, Twitch, and in a web browser. He covers Geophysics information live and in-depth. If you want to get involved in his community I recommend viewing and subscribing on Twitch, but he can also be found on YouTube.
- Listen to podcasts - Podcasts have evolved quite a bit. A podcast is an audio series, but there can also be video podcasts. If you like to binge content, keep up with regular shows, and learn new things you will enjoy this. When you find a good podcast like, subscribe and set notifications to create a more integrated experience.
- Subscribe to Flip Board - Flip board is a news aggregation platform. Both app and web-based, this is the best way to find all your news in one place.
- Check current event topics on Reddit - Earlier I suggested discovering Reddit as a way to share ideas. But you can also use it to keep up with current events. There are more than enough Reddit boards on politics, weather, and other current events to keep you busy forever.
- Check in with Forbes - Most people think of Forbes as being a business magazine, but it is so much more than that. Forbes covers everything from business to technology and everything in between. If you are limited on the number of publications you can follow and can only choose a few, then this should be one of the websites you keep up with. In my experience, they have the most forward-thinking and accurate information on the web. Forbes covers politics and current events in the most factual and natural way possible.
- Traditional news mainstream media - You can always look up your favorite news broadcasting stations and get your news from there. All of them are online and can be searched one by one.
- Check with AP Media - AP media is a not-for-profit news agency. Their unique business model puts them in a position where they are regarded as one of the most trusted mainstream media outlets. This is a good place to get current events.
- Pressreader Newspapers & Magazine - Try your local library if you want to read newspapers and magazines virtually. Many library systems include this service free with your library card.
- Sign up for current event News Letters - If you don't have a lot of time to search for current events then you might want to sign up for newsletters from the news sources you trust the most. This is a quick way to stay in the know.
- Stay up to date with YouTube - You may think Youtube is just for music or videos, but it has a much wider scope than that. There are lots of networks utilizing Youtube for current events. But even better are the citizen journalists live streaming the action right at the source.
More Ways to Keep Busy Online
Places to go for Online for Learning and Experiences
Like to learn? Are you looking for new online experiences? Here are some ideas about where you can learn new things for free. Some of these suggestions are experiences you can have right from the comfort of your own home.
- Go on a YouTube hike or guided bike ride - There are lots of streamers whose content provides you with the ability to walk, hike, or bike with the streamer. Peloton is a paid-for service where you can do guided rides and walks, but you can find the same thing for free on YouTube.
- Study a foreign language - Deep language learning is associated with a fee. But you can learn the basics online for free. Google translate, language websites, and apps are free ways to begin to learn the basics of a new language.
- Learn a new BBQ recipe - Most of us can BBQ a burger and hot dogs, but a fun way to learn online for free is to follow along with the experts. Forensic BBQ offers a great resource where you can learn to cook lamb, poultry, and veggies in a delicious and aesthetically pleasing way. Sign up for the newsletter and get new, fun BBQ recipes straight to your inbox.
- Short email learning courses - A free way to learn online is to sign up for free email courses. Highbrow is an example of a website that offers this service. Each day you get a short lesson to follow along with at your own pace.
- Online Trivia - If you are just looking for a fun way to stimulate the mind then participate in online trivia. Trivia can be in the form of an email subscription, a website, or in app form.
- Learn from TED Talks - TED Conferences LLC is technically a media organization. Even though this is true, they are also one of the most important learning resources on the internet. These free videos give you a chance to learn from experts at the top of their field. This is where you get some of the most factual online content on the web.
- Research cryptocurrency - Cryptocurrency is the hottest topic on the web. The basic truth is that it isn't going anywhere, and becomes more widely adopted. This is a viable currency and will still be here ten and twenty years from now. Now is the time to educate yourself about what it is, and how it is used! Do not invest in crypto until you have done this research. Try Counbase, an app that rewards you with free bitcoin just for learning about bitcoin.
- Browse Pinterest and Create your own boards - Pinterest may be one of the most underestimated social networking sites. It consistently maintains over 400 million users. Pinterest is a visual bookmarking website and app with a unique approach to organizing online information and content.
- Join a virtual book club - A virtual book club is when a group of like-minded people read a pre-selected book and then hold lively discussions about the book. Book clubs are popular again in part as a way for people to socialize and stimulate their minds, even when isolating.
- Learn music theory - If you have always wanted to understand music now is the time. YouTube, Twitch, and Discord are filled with music professionals who will teach you about music theory for free.
- Try Luminosity - If you are looking to challenge your brain and keep your neurons engaged in the thinking process then try Luminosity. It is an app that offers premium service, but also offers free brain training games and puzzles.
- Bookmark Starfall for kids - Starfall is an amazing and free learning website for kids. It's free, well designed, and has an endless amount of activities to teach kids about technology, reading, math, and more.
- Sign up for Grasshopper and Learn to Code - Believe it or not, Google LLC has a service called Grasshopper which will teach you the basics of coding for free.
- Master chess - Play chess online with strangers or friends. While chess is a game it stimulates the brain. The days of playing chess at the park with strangers and friends feel long gone. But now you can play online with friends for free.
Places to Captivate the Mind
Exploring Nature, and Science, Math Online
Science, nature, and math are all benefiting from technology. These areas are moving so quickly that some of the stuff we learned back in school may be revised and corrected by now. That makes it so important to keep up with the latest information. Here are some great places to practice, learn, and discover about these areas while keeping yourself busy.
- Bookmark Science Daily News - Earlier we talked about using aggregated news, but did you know you can also get aggregated science. Science daily news is a trusted website that has been bringing the latest press releases to the web since 1995. Get all your breaking science news in one place from this trusted source.
- Watch Bushcraft Bear - Bushcraft Bear is known for live streaming and providing a large library of nature content for viewers to enjoy. He is on the ground live at the La Palma Volcano and gathering lots of information that he freely passes to viewers. His content library covers off-road camping and cooking.
- Explore with Street View or Google Earth - If you haven't already done it, take a visual walk using Street View or Google Earth. Try virtually visiting a friend or pen pals city or place that you have always felt curious about.
- Free digital stargazing guide - During the pandemic many people have been learning new skills to show off to friends and family later when gatherings resume. There are multiple free websites offering digital stargazing. Learn about the constellations and teach your friends.
- Learn about math and science straight from college professors - This is a resource I loved back in college. Sometimes my professors just didn't explain it in a way I could understand. Imagine my surprise when I discovered many college professors video record their classes and post them on YouTube. And all for free! Professors from Yale, Stanford, and MIT post lectures online. That's right, you can learn from the best and it doesn't cost anything.
- iNaturlist.com - This website allows you to record, share, and discuss your nature findings with other enthusiasts. This website is a partnership between National Geographic Society and California Academy of sciences. Here you can contribute to biodiversity science and be a part of the action.
- Watch animals live - By now you have probably seen cute pictures and videos of cats on the internet. But most other animals have their presence too. YouTube has many live cameras feeds. Many of them are up 24/7. There is everything from manatees under the sea to bald eagles and hummingbird nets. With this resource, you can see animals live in their natural habitat.
- Mental Math Master by 5daysweekend - If you are mathematically minded you may enjoy this app. It brings math to adults in game form and makes the learning process fun. This is great for brushing up on faded math skills or learning new ones.
- Virtual science lab apps - Science is ever-evolving and deepening human understanding of our world. Humans and AI are hot on the tracks of some of the most amazing advances. If you want to get some hands-on science experience to help you stay in the know then try a science lab app where you can perform your own experiments.
- Get Prodigy Math for your kids and grandkids- Prodigy Math is something my children used and loved. Your school might be using this within its curriculum. You can help your child get ahead by making sure they can play from home. Give the free options a try, and you will probably want to get the paid membership because it works so well. Even if the school doesn't use it, you can still make these fun math games a party of playtime! I am incredibly happy with how this has personally helped my kids master math!
- Take a peek at Photomath by Photomath Inc. - This is a really handy mathematics tool. Photomath allows you to take a picture of a math problem and returns a step-by-step answer on how to solve the problem. Parents, this is for you. Make your kids think you are a math wish and always know the answer!
- Download a Math flashcards app - If playing math games isn't your thing, then go old school. You might remember flashcards of old. They were small thick pieces of paper with a math problem on the front and the answer on the back. Now you can do it in app form. There are many free math flashcard apps to choose from, such as Monster Math Flash Cars, CardDrioid, and A+ math.
There are thousands and thousands of games to play on the internet. Gaming used to be reserved for platforms, but now gamers are also people who only play games on their phones. Below I have selected some of the best free ways to satisfy gaming cravings online.
- Join in on Call of Duty Mobile - There are lots of FPS apps to choose from, but the clear leader of the back is Call of Duty Mobile. While not cross-compatible with other platforms, this game in itself is an impressive feat in mobile gaming.
- Try MistPlay - MistPlay is a fun way to find new games to try while earning gift cards. It is legit and is the best in its class. I have been using it for more than a year and I am still earning one or two gift cards a month for relaxing with a new game.
- Play Slither.io - This fun game is both web-based and in-app form. You and other online players are worms. The goal is to cause other worms to run into you with their heads while trying not to run head one into other players. The energy left behind from the other players makes you bigger. Try to be the biggest snake!
- Try a World of Warcraft Alternative - If you like mobile gaming and want to try something similar to World of Warcraft then check out Order and Chaos. This App is a free-to-play online MMORPG in app form. While the game has no new updates, it has enough gameplay to keep you busy for a long time.
- Try a Party game - There are hundreds of free online party games. Once you and your friends try Among Us you will be addicted. Among Us is a multiplayer puzzle game available across multiple platforms. You and your friends are crewmates, but one of you is an imposter trying to get away with sabotage. Can you figure out who is who?
- Play Wizzard 101 with your kids - The most family-friendly MMORPG for kids is Wizzard 101. There are paid options, but the game is free to play up to a point. This game has the best moderators, chat systems, and vivid gameplay for kids.
- Catan Univers old board game brought to life. Virtual Catan web baseed and app
- Play the Crash Bandicoot app - Lots of old games are now available in app form. Take a walk down memory lane and try some of your favorites. I recommend playing Crash Bandicoot. This app is well done in comparison to the original game.
- Try Mega Man x on mobile - Capcom also parties with another company to produce one of your favorite old games! If you were a big Mega Man fan, then you will love the new app!
- Get rewarded to play games - If you are just trying to kill some time and like getting rewarded then this type of gaming might be for you. Current, Tapchamps, and Cash Alarm are all legit apps that reward playtime with gift cards.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Ruby Oliver