December 16, 2019 | Jess Silverberg

People Share The Best-Kept Secrets Of The Internet

The internet is an amazing thing. It may even be the best invention in history! It is the ultimate marker of humanity's evolution—without it, the modern world wouldn't be able to function. We often go about our everyday lives using the internet for the same old reasons, but there's so much more to it than meets the eye. Here are some of the internet's best-kept secrets, as revealed by people online:


#1 Accessible Knowledge

MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). College courses from universities everywhere that are free to enroll. Take the MOOC, find an institution that will allow you to take an exam to prove you know the material instead of taking courses. Do it for as many courses as you can, take and pass the rest, then boom, discount degree. I had a professor who, before computers, would audit courses or just show up to lectures. He was eventually granted another degree using this method.


#2 Textbooks For All

This website, I think, has free or extremely cheap digital college textbooks. I wanted to test how obscure I could go on this site, so I started looking up direct-to-Kindle dinosaur romance novels. It's not exactly a 100% success rate, but it's not 0% either. I was able to find a book called My Billionaire Triceratops Craves Me.


#3 The Way-Back Machine

The way-back machine. You can recover deleted news articles, posts, and other otherwise unreachable pages. It's the reason nothing on the internet is truly ever deleted. The one caveat—it has to be something that a person had the foresight to save. That said, there are definitely deleted pages that are not accessible through the way-back machine.


#4 Big Savings

"Save10," "save20," and "save30" are premier discount codes on a surprising amount of websites. Also, "test123." Anytime during checkout, just try one of these and 25% of the time, one of them works. I'm a programmer for online ticketing, so I can confirm. Most of our clients will start with a test or "test123" that will have no limit amount of uses, then they create the "save10," "save20" or "save30" types or they go with the "promo2019" types (the year of the event). The best I've seen an event make is the code "100" that gave 100% off on the order. Another good one is "template" or "template2019."


#5 Free Money

Sites often have affiliate programs in which they will give you an affiliate code to share with friends and family. They use the code and receive a discount on their order and you get a cut usually (I believe, from what I've seen) in the form of store credit. Presumably, the add-on company uses these affiliate codes that they made themselves so they're getting thousands of people to use their code and thus getting a ton of literally free money.


#6 A Sea Of Estrogen

That there are women on the internet. A lot of us. It's funny. My wife won't let me tag her in posts because she doesn't want her gender to be known. She used to have a username that made it obvious she was a woman and I witnessed first-hand how her comments were interpreted on certain subjects. When she changed her username to something gender-neutral, that's when I really noticed the difference and it's quite obvious if you follow it and pay attention. It's sad.


#7 Australian Gas Hack

A certain service station or fuel company in Australia has a phone app that lets you lock in the price of fuel at your closest fuel station for a week. People have found various ways to lock in the price of fuel at any of their stores in Australia (against the TOS), giving you huge discounts if your local fuel servos are expensive. For example, if the fuel in Brisbane is $1.70 and it's $1.20 in Melbourne, you'd pay as if you're in Melbourne, saving you 50c/L.


#8 The Silent Developer

Literally anything Valve is ever doing. Wanna know when this new game comes out? Too bad. Wanna know if we see your feedback? Too bad. They've stayed silent for a very long time, and I gotta give 'em credit, it would be pretty hard. I’m still disgruntled that Left 4 Dead 3 was canceled because the studio couldn’t make a decision, so they just scrapped the whole thing.


#9 Job Hunting Bypass

The job sites where you can actually get a job instead of send applications that never get read. It's the best-kept secret, so I don't know where it is. This was so frustrating while I was job hunting. In the end, I compiled a list of local companies I genuinely wanted to work for, spent time hunting down the direct emails of the relevant people and sent them tailored covering letters. I was surprised by how many of them were willing to just create a position for me based on that. Give it a try. Good luck!


#10 Finding The Answers

A lot of online courses where there’s a timer on the page use JavaScript to manage it. You can usually change the remaining time to 0 and skip through the pages rapidly. I once managed to complete online driver's school in 17 minutes. Also, on sites where you need to take quizzes—it depends on the site, but you can usually find the answers. You may be able to inspect the network traffic, and the answers are in a JavaScript file. There's more likelihood of this in Chrome; I'm sure about Firefox, but if you have the dev tools up and press CTRL+Shift+F, you can search the page source, including the HTML, CSS, and Javascript.


#11 Amazon Shopping It's a tool that tracks the prices of everything on Amazon. You can see trends like if the product goes on sale a certain time of year and set notifications to alert you if a product dips below a certain price. It's an invaluable tool if you do a lot of Amazon shopping.


#12 The Loser Stereotype

Not everyone online is an unemployed virgin living in their mom's basement. I mentioned in a post months ago that I work in VFX for a pretty big studio. One of the responses was literally something along the lines of "If you were, you wouldn't have that much time on your hands to post online." It's almost as if lunch breaks, weekends and occasional work procrastination weren't a thing.


#13 The Library Of Babel

The Library of Babel. It is a fascinating experiment that uses algorithms to prove Jorge Luis Borges' theory that anything and everything text-based can be and has been created just through the random assignment of characters using a labyrinth of bookshelves in a hexagon format. Every work of fiction or nonfiction can be created word-for-word randomly given enough permutations. Anything randomly discovered in the library will be in exactly the same spot when re-discovered without having to generate the millions and millions of pages of text and store it.


#14 Lost Passwords

Any password that's a slight variation of the main password building block you always use, while internally making note of it... Saying to yourself: "Oh, that's easy. It's the regular thing, I just changed that character this time. How could I forget it, it's just the one change!"


#15 A YouTube Gem

Kevin Nealon’s ‘Hiking With Kevin’ series on YouTube. I just discovered this a few days ago. He’s got like 200K subscribers, so not a huge secret but still very underrated. He goes on hikes and interviews with other celebrities, it’s really fun to watch.


#16 Reap The Benefits

I’m really surprised more people don’t use cash-back sites when shopping online! And the people that do, usually use Ebates which isn’t even that good. BeFrugal is one of my favorites, but if you are about to make a purchase, go to Cashbackwatch and type in the name of the website. It will then list sites that offer cashback. I’ve signed up for about 3-4 that I use the most. I know it sounds cheap but it adds up fast and it’s minimal effort.


#17 The Tables Have Turned

The biggest hack I've found is using the ad-based eavesdropping to my advantage. There have been multiple occasions where a conversation I've had about something results in an ad appearing on my social media. I use this to my advantage. I've learned that speaking about certain products with social media open results in ads for discounts on those said products. Usually, within a week of me 'inquiring' about an item, I will receive an advertisement with a heavy discount code.

I've noticed this is especially effective with Facebook. I click on a Facebook ad for an item, add it to my cart, but do NOT complete the purchase. Instantly, I will receive discount codes for that item. I do almost all of my shopping this way. I decide that I want something and wait for an advertisement to give me a cheaper price on it. The spying on us is inevitable, so I might as well use it to my advantage.


#18 Pandora Radio

I remember discovering Pandora Radio on the internet sometime in about 1998 on a school computer and thinking it was awesome. Fast forward to about 2010ish and I had somehow remembered it on a whim and went to look for it. Still there! Obviously! Pandora has been around for about 25 years, or more? Crazy.


#19 Space Views

The site You can see satellite images of Earth every day since Feb 24 of 2000. It's really interesting if you're into meteorology, geography, seeing dust, volcanoes or wildfires or just how land/water changes throughout this time, from space. You can see how snow covering the ground looks like from space. You can identify and differentiate the types of clouds. You can see all the hurricanes/typhoons develop and wreak havoc over time, and you can even check out what it was like on 9/11 from space.


#20 The Million Dollar Homepage

The Million Dollar Homepage is a website conceived in 2005 by Alex Tew, a student from Wiltshire, England, to raise money for his university education. The home page consisted of a million pixels arranged in 1000 × 1000 pixel grid; the image-based links on it were sold for $1 per pixel in 10 × 10 blocks. The purchasers of these pixel blocks provided tiny images to be displayed on them, a URL to which the images were linked, and a slogan to be displayed when hovering a cursor over the link. The aim of the website was to sell all of the pixels in the image, thus generating a million dollars of income for the creator.


#21 Capitalizing Fear

Security software, especially antivirus, is useless. It's a business model that preys on people's fears and creates false concepts of security threats in people's heads to scare them into buying better packages. This is done through scary popups and ads. The nature of threats in the wild is that usually, they are very tame and manageable by your browser and OS as long as you're keeping up on updates. There is literally no reason to have an antivirus program installed, especially when you're paying attention to the programs you're downloading and running.


#22 The Deep And Dark

The deep web is simply web pages that aren't indexed by a search engine, like Google. Your saved posts on certain threads, for example, are part of the deep web since you can't Google it. The darknet or dark web is where you can get the shady stuff. The simplest way to access that is through something like Tor, which AFAIK is a fancy variant of a VPN; it encrypts your data, but unlike a VPN said data is passed between multiple nodes before reaching the final destination.


#23 A False Memory?

The original music video for Jeremy by Pearl jam.  I had that video on my hard drive back in the day. Now I can't find any trace of the video or people who remember it. I'm stuck spending the rest of my life wondering if it was just a false memory or the Mandela Effect. The more time that passes, the less likely I am to find the original edit.


#24 Removing Barriers

SciHub publishes free scientific journals such as the Agriculture and Biology Journal of North America. They believe in information in science not being hidden behind paywalls. There is another site by them where you search for a specific article using the DOI of the article (you can also give the URL you found the article on) and they will unlock it for you. It's technically piracy but it's more activism in their eyes. I won't link it here though you can find it easily enough. Amazing resource for university students looking for primary sources for their work and thesis if they need something specific and can't get access to it Their slogan is "removing barriers on the way to knowledge." They're doing important work.


#25 Overwhelming Potential

The biggest secret isn't what is on the internet, it's what isn't on the internet, and just how poor we are at preserving critical historical data. Just how much precious content and information has yet to be digitized. Schematics. Technical notes from the design engineers. Datasheets for long-obsolete parts, useless to everyone except for the one person who can't do his job without it.


#26 Two Loopholes

Gutenberg Project has digitized or e-book versions of just about everything in Public Domain. I paired it with a free e-book reader program and I didn’t have to pay a cent for like three of my senior literature classes. Putlocker, while slow to load and with many unstable links, has just about any movie or TV show you could think to look for.


#27 Playing It Safe

Youtube algorithms. Man... YouTube used to help link me to all kinds of interesting videos. In 2010, I was all over the place there. Nowadays, it's only suggesting videos I've already watched and similar ones. It plays it too safe... It's repetitive and unimpressive. I especially noticed this a few months ago when I made a new account. I used to love YouTube.


#28 A Mint Deal

Mint Mobile. In the US, you can get voice/text and 3 GB of Data for $15 month. The only catch is you buy it all upfront, so it's technically $180/year. You can also get 8GB per month for $240/year or 12GB/mo for $300/year. I don't work for them or anything, it's just an insane deal.


#29 Diablo Rich

In the game Diablo 2, which was released in 2000, there is a hack/trick which duplicates items your characters have. You can duplicate expensive items and sell them to others. The method has been around for at least 10 to 15 years and I think only a handful of people actually know how to do it. The in-game trading market is quite flooded with duplicated items but apparently no one knows how to create them.


#30 The Internet Is Bad

Lots of information is on the internet, but the information you are likely to encounter and engage with is much more limited, shallow, algorithmically determined to match your biases and preferences, and fit to a convenient oversimplified narrative. The internet is a poor substitute for human-to-human interaction and life experience.


#31 The Hardest Puzzle

Cicada 3301. The final part of the puzzle has been uncracked for over 4 years I’m pretty sure. The Great Big Story did a documentary on the guys who’s cracked the most of it. It’s actually very cool if you're sort of into coding and hacking. Supposedly it’s got ties to the NSA, and they're trying to recruit the smartest people in the world or something. It’s very interesting.


#32 Selling Your Data

How many websites actually steal and sell your data with cookies. Use a browser add-on called Lightbeam—it tracks what websites are selling your data to who. It's REALLY scary.

#33 Send A Telegram

You can still send telegrams via iTelegram. They even arrive on paper and are adjusted for inflation. They're quite a bit cheaper than they were in the 1890s. They also own the old telex service, which you can still use via some very old Windows 95 legacy software (although it doesn't travel over dedicated wire anymore).


#34 Learning English

For non-native speakers of English, type « how to pronounce + word » on google and it will show the phonetics. It even has an animation with sound to show you how to make the sounds. You can also switch between British English and American English, and set the speed to regular or slow. It's a great tool that I recommend my students to use.


#35 YouTube Magic

If you're watching YouTube on a browser and want to download a video, go to the video, type "magic" between "You" and "Tube" in the link, then press enter. Here, you can download the video on different qualities, and even a music file. I've been using this trick for years now and I haven't seen anyone else use it.


#36 Travel Resource

There's a  travel software that Google owns that powers all of the travel websites. You can go directly to that site and search for flights. It offers just about every search iteration that you would reasonably want, but sites like Kayak don't actually offer. For example, you can add days, multiple departures and arrival airports, a number of layovers you're okay with, etc.

You can then sort by all of those to figure out which flight works best for you. The only catch is that not every airline is included (I don't think Southwest is there) and that you can't actually book tickets through there. But it's a quick way to figure out the best flights and then you just go directly to the airline's website to order.


#37 Know Your Skin lists the ingredients of skin care products, describes what every ingredient is used for, lists if the ingredient is good or bad for a variety of skin conditions (think acne, eczema, etc.), and color codes them based on safety.


#38 Free TV It's a free TV service with no malware or shady business. It's not some fly by night either, it's owned by Viacom. They've got tons of free content, tons of movies, channels that you can flip through TV-style and on-demand stuff that's Netflix style. I recently watched all of American Gladiators while grinding in WoW.


#39 Be Your Own DJ It's a site where you put in any two songs, either from YouTube or Spotify, and after a few minutes, the site automatically mashes them together. This may seem like it doesn't work well, but I've been making many mashups and if you get two songs with the same bpm, you can get some incredible results.


#40 The Power Of Bolt

Bolt. It’s an app that allows you to download any video off youtube and play it with ur phone switched off and no WiFi or data. Basically a free music app. I really hope I haven’t just told the whole Internet.


#41 The Polybius Myth

Polybius. It’s supposedly an old arcade game from the ’90s that would brainwash players, or give them amnesia. The kicker is that there is no proof of it ever existing. But many claim it exists, and that they have played it.


#42 VPN Safety Net

The fact that you can easily pose as a free WiFi at a busy, innocent location (like a restaurant or hotel) and have some helpless pedestrian connect to your internet. People easily get hacked this way but the same goes both ways unless the hacker in question is smart and covers his bases. This is why you should buy A VPN service, like NordVPN.


#43 A Free Photoshop

Pixlr Editor is a browser photo editor for all your editing needs. Have full control over your images, including layers and effects. Pixlr Editor is the most popular advanced online photo editor. No download is required, and it's 100% free.


#44 Who Invented Bitcoin?

The person who invented Bitcoin. Seriously—we have a name, but no idea who it is. As you might expect, though, several people have claimed it's them (I think... I may be wrong, though).


#45 Google Problems

It sometimes appears that Google is the best-kept secret. No one ever uses it to solve problems or answer questions. It infuriates me when people ask me a question that I don't know so I ask, "Have you tried Googling it?" Only to have them respond "Well, what do I Google?"




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