By Randy A. Salas
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Have you ever had something you really, really wanted to say - but you just didn't want anyone to know who was saying it? That's where these Web sites come in.
Oceangram is the epitome of a time-waster Web site, but it can be a calming experience, too. You just sit there, staring at a virtual ocean on the screen, waiting for a bottle to float by. Once one does, you can pluck the faux bottle out of the water, uncork it and read the message inside. The writer is anonymous, and the recipient is whoever happens to drop by. Once you read the note, many of which philosophize or request a prayer, you can discard the bottle and get rid of that message forever or add your comments to the original message (or leave it blank) and toss it back in for another random person to find. You can, of course, originate a message, too. The site has delivered nearly 3.6 million messages in a bottle.
Real sample: "I spy with my little eye something blue," the original message said.
One of 10 replies: "My mood?"
I tossed the bottle back without a reply.
Here's your chance to get back at the annoying people who work in the cubicles nearby. Tell them how you really feel - only don't be too specific, or they'll know who the whiner is. The Annoying Coworker will get your e-mail, but you'll remain anonymous. Ingenious.
Real sample: "Please stop burping and farting in the office. I don't find it cute - it's annoying, especially when I'm on the phone. You are a grown woman."
Secret Admirer is the modern equivalent of passing notes in school but so much more clever. If you have a crush on someone but are too shy to make it known, you go to the Web site and enter the person's e-mail address. Your crush gets an e-mail letting him or her know of the secret admiration and an invitation to visit the site and send a secret-admirer message of his or her own. If your e-mail address is entered as the recipient, the site recognizes the match. "We'll automatically e-mail you both the good news, in the form of a match message," the site explains. "The match message will reveal your identities to each other, and inform you both that your feelings are mutual." How sweet.
Real sample: "Subject: You Have a Secret Admirer (this isn't junk mail)."
Fun and games are nice, but maybe you want to remain anonymous for a more serious reason, such as online privacy or to avoid inviting spam by publicizing your e-mail address. That's where e-mail anonymizers or remailers come in handy. The Electronic Privacy Information Center's Online Guide to Practical Privacy Tools contains a variety of links to find out how to send all of your e-mail anonymously, including Andre Bacard's Anonymous Remailer FAQ (www.andrebacard.com/remail.html). Go ahead and try it - I can keep a secret.
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Randy A. Salas is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Do you have a favorite Web site or a question about how to find something on the Internet? Send a note by clicking here.
© 2006, Star Tribune Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.