LEGO FANS, UNITE!
Now is the time and Legopolis is the place - a virtual world dedicated to
the miniature plastic humanoids of Lego building block fame. Come watch how
the little people live. See what kind of Internet services they enjoy. And
best of all, create your own Lego-ite by using an amazing variety of
mix-and-match heads, torsos, and legs. Toy enthusiasts, kids and those who
want to design kinky transvestite Lego people will all enjoy this site.
LICENSE PLATES OF THE WORLD
Ever wonder what the "Je me Souviens" on license plates in Quebec means? Or
perhaps what color differentiations mean on license plates in the income
tax haven of the Cayman Islands? Well, quite frankly, neither have we. The
License Plates of The World site has a staggering array of images and bits
of information on the various plates that adorn vehicles throughout this
disenchanted little corner of the galaxy. Even we were stunned by the sheer
quantity of trivia associated with our planet's license plates, and as
readers know, we DO NOT STUN EASILY (except when it comes to nose jobs).
The individual responsible for this site should create a board game. It's
worked for lesser hobbies.
MORE BEANS, PLEASE
Well, it was completely inevitable. There is now on the Net a Web site
wholly and completely dedicated to flatulence. Yes, that's right, the
site's name is Farts.Com. Now this is a family publication, so - wait,
what's that? Oh, this isn't a family publication after all? great - we can
let you in on all the gory details, such as the Fart Mart (Oh yes,
fart-inspired merchandise), fart diet tips, and the ominously titled
"Squeek of the Week". Now we don't have to tell all of you, this site is,
of course, not for everybody. However, if "Dumb and Dumber" figures
prominently in your video collection, then we've got a keeper here.
GIANT FROG SEEKS SUPPORT IN WINDY CITY
See folks, we're not the only ones who like frogs. So do the people of
Chicago, or at least a good number of them. To show their appreciation and
concern for real live frogs and their ecologically challenged environment,
a coalition of Chicagoans is lobbying to place a giant frog statue in Grant
Park, just off the shores of Lake Michigan. Will they succeed? What will
the frog look like? Will it be able to leap over the Sears Tower in a
single bound? Stop by and take a look. Other frog-o-philes are invited to
join in the cause. <http://www.friendsofthefrog.com/>
THE CURTAIN RISES ON A NEW VIRTUAL THEATRE
Pretend you've just found your seat. The lights are dimming. The curtain
rises. And suddenly, the play begins. Well, OK, the Upstage Theatre doesn't
quite go that far in simulating the real thing, but it does present some
interesting images and ways of looking at your favorite plays. Thespians
and theatre lovers are cordially invited to stop by for a really big show.
FROM THE LOST TRIBES TO ALICE LOST
This beautiful site draws on surprising sources offered in unexpected
juxtaposition. Maxima New Media refashions traditional visual and literary
material for presentation in the computer medium, and they use this Web
site to proudly display their work. Not the least of the site's pleasures
is Maxima's eclectic selection of sources: legends of the lost tribes of
Israel; nonsense illustrations and poetry by Edward Lear; whimsy from Lewis
Carroll; a history told in Jewish folklore. Colors are rich and warm.
Animation is restrained and just right for the image. Line drawings are
witty, and even the link icons are minor masterpieces. Contests engage
visitors even more and there's free clip art. <http://www.maxnm.com/>
HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR ELECTROLUX TODAY?
Meet Charlie Lester, connoisseur of the vintage vacuum cleaner, devotee of
the preposterously massive pipe organ, UFO fancier, and theremin authority.
You'll find his passions infectious. In the tradition of appealing
monologuists, his stories are a bit shaggy dog, but few sites convey their
author's personality as engagingly as Charlie's. Right or wrong, it's hard
not to imagine him with crinkled eyes, a big laugh and unbounded curiosity
for all things loosely connected by a relationship to air.
NAME THAT TUNE - AND WIN THAT PRIZE!
Remember the game show "Name That Tune?" Now, an online daily version
entitled TuneMania lets players to test their music knowledge. Simply
download the audio clip du jour and try to name the tune. One winner is
selected each day from the pool of correct answers given. Real prizes are
PUZZLE ON, DUDES
Sample a variety of puzzles on the Online Crosswords Web page, or, if you
prefer, download crossword puzzles for your own Web pages or learn to
create them yourself. The page's author provides different versions.
There's a "standard" version, a "party" version (you may need sunglasses
for this colorful variety), and what's called an "image" version - "a
crossword puzzle like a chocolate bar". (Let's hope that Hershey doesn't
sue.) There's also a FAQ, online tools for building your own puzzles, and
some aged software for serving crosswords using CGI.
BE IT EVER SO COZY, THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A QUILT
Cozy Bendesky is a self-described textile artist, and her love of quilting
and results of her crafts are beautifully portrayed on this lovely Web
site. She creates her quilts from hand-dyed fabrics. You can pay a virtual
visit to her Pennsylvania studio. Setting a goal of carrying on the
tradition of needlecraft, she also specializes in knitting, making lace,
and other handsewing arts. You can follow links to galleries of her quilts
and of "wearable art". And don't miss her intriguing discussions of
"Perfect Wife: '50s Style" juxtaposed with "Perfect Wife: '90s Style".
HELP FOR YOUR SICK PC
ZDNet and Symantec have launched a new site with advice on fixing your PC
and keeping it healthy. The HealthyPC.Com site has a dual personality. On
one side, you have the free services like sample software, maintenance and
tuning tips, expert advice and a dealer/service finder put up by ZDNet. On
the other side of the screen is a paid subscription service called the
Health Club where you can get access to a live system check, virus and
other software updates, and more for $4.95 per month.
FADE TO BLACK FOR A WACKY EXPERIENCE
Far too many Web browser screens go black, but this one is nicely done for
a change. It's strange and proud of it. In the online bookstore, just
reading the titles can be entertaining - e.g. "The Happy Mutant Handbook"
or "277 Secrets Your Dog Wants You to Know". You can vote in a popularity
contest between Bill Gates and the founder of Wacky.com, Howie Swaim. When
we last checked Howie was ahead, but of course he controls the results -
watch for Bill to make a play for control shortly. You'll find some cool
art, sounds, and written words. <http://www.wacky.com/>
HAVE A GOOD LAUGH
Cartoonist Daryl Cagle's site highlights his newspaper cartoon, TRUE!, and
many other cool cartoon sites as well. True TRUE! fans may browse an index
arranged by category like business, Star Trek, government, and Rush
Limbaugh to name a few. The links take you to other syndicated strips,
"professional, but not syndicated" sites, editorial 'toons, and even
cartoonist organizations. We counted over 70 links to comic strips that you
know and love. If you like comics, there is something here for you.
In NSD 3.13, we asked you to match the writers to the articles they wrote. Our creative staff of 10 wrote 35 articles. Simple random assignment would result in entrants getting 3.5 correct matches on average. Jason Adams of Columbus, Ohio, guessed best but, oddly, won with only four correct answers. On the whole, people guessed worse than would be expected randomly. Jason used a guided missile strategy: "On the assumption that she wrote at least one, and that other people will try too hard, my entry is that Joanne Eglash wrote every article." Second place goes to Glenn Roenigk of New Freedom, Pa., who tried the dartboard approach and was the first to reply with three right matches. Their T-shirts are on the way. We hope none of you tried the lottery that week....
ARIZONA'S WEB OASIS
Azfamily.com - Awkward name, superb site. Yahoo, Microsoft, and other
providers of local content will surely take a long, hard look at it, not
only because it's the Web child of a local broadcast media company out to
tout a toasty touristy town or two. It's comprehensive, attractive, easy to
navigate, and for locals probably the most useful general Web site in
Arizona, if not all of the Southwest. You'd expect a city or regional guide
to have news and features on local life, weather, entertainment, dining,
discussion boards, etc. Azfamily.com has those but take the site tour and
you'll find a lot of hidden goodies, too. For example, check out the list
of license plates rejected by the Motor Vehicle Department (it takes all
kinds, doesn't it?). And when's the last time you found crime prevention
tips from a city police department, or background on public schools, or
consumer advocacy on a metropolitan Web site? Someone in the desert has
brought a dream of bright, tasteful, straightforward pages to life.
EXPLORE ANTARCTICA WITH RICE UNIVERSITY
Rice University in Houston lies a long way from the cold of the Antarctic.
However, the university has put together a great site about the bottom of
the world, a comprehensive look at the land, weather, oceans, and ice of
our most southern continent. You can get a good feel for the place by
clicking on the expedition link. The pages detail what it's like to plan,
pack, travel onboard ship, and work in one of the Antarctic camps.
JOIN THE VIRTUAL ROAD TRIP
Detroit photographer Bill Schwab has embarked on another virtual journey
across the wilds of the United States, and he's making use of the latest
technology to take along the Net community. The Virtual Tour Web site will
track Schwab's progress to pre-set milestones and will offer images and
reports of the team's adventures as they cross the country, visiting as
many National Parks as possible. Any netsurfers who wish to be kept
apprised of the journey can register at the site and receive e-mailed
descriptions of life on the road. <http://virtualroadtrip.com/>
FOR TRAVELERS AND GEOGRAPHERS
IBM offers an eminently useful site for anyone needing quick and dirty data
on neighbors in the international community. Travelers will appreciate
information on languages, currency, economics and politics, population,
international treaty participation, and more. Students and researchers can
make use of details on literacy rates, life expectancy, arable land,
boundary disputes, and resources. It's not a complete source, certainly,
but it is an efficient first stop. IBM's penetration into the world market
and the extent to which it can do business internationally influence the
selections. The 133 entries, for instance, do not include North Korea,
Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or Cuba.
FOR A NEW STATE OF MIND, TRY OREGON
From its wind-swept coastline to its rugged mountains, from the city of
Portland to the amazing Crater Lake, Oregon has it all. So does this site.
Whether you're actually planning a trip to Oregon, or just want to whet
your appetite, this is a great place to start. Super-informative, nicely
organized, a pleasure to visit. <http://www.traveloregon.com/>
If your dream vacation is Scotland, this Web site can give you some
pre-visit information. Scottish towns and villages are highlighted on these
Web pages, including their locations, events, accomodations, and so forth.
The towns featured range from large to small, from noteworthy to
where's-that? We should tell you that when we visited the site, some of the
graphics took an exceptionally long time to load. Of course, you could
always practice your bagpipe or iron your kilts while you're waiting.
INTERACTIVE DAYLIGHT, TWILIGHT, AND NIGHT WORLD GLOBE
This site presents a graphical view of the sunlit and dark areas at the
time that you click on their link. They also show local time, and sunrise
and sunset times for over 500 cities. The sun never sets on the WWW empire.
COMICS? YEAH, WE GOT COMICS
The Comic Sites Alliance is a one-stop clearing house for those seeking
information on online and paper comic books. Unlike sites that might appear
in a Net search, all these sites have specifically asked to be posted on
the Alliance page, which means few outdated or non-existent links.
E-MAIL A CARTOON TO A FRIEND
You could also always send a cartoon to an enemy, but why bother? A free
service, you simply pick out an appropriate cartoon and add your own
message, address it, sign it, and it's on its way. <http://www.toonogram.com/>
MUSIC FESTIVAL FINDER
Here's a useful site for music lovers of any stripe. It catalogues North
American music festivals of every genre (polka lovers, look under
"miscellaneous"). A search engine, contests, and links, where available,
hit the right notes. <http://www.festivalfinder.com/>
NEED EVEN MORE CELEBRITY NEWS?
This slick site caters to watchers of celebrities with an athletic bent.
Reports are appropriately shallow, undated, and sometimes outdated. Sports
pool enthusiasts will do better to read regular injury reports.
Instructive, though, is a real-time tabulation comparing second-to-second
earnings of athletes against Bill Clinton's cumulative salary.
RESTOS OF THE WORLD
The Restaurant Row Web site provides information on hotels, cars, and air
travel as well as reviews of a variety of restaurants. You can conduct a
search for restaurants by city, as well as search for accomodations.
HEADLINER COMPETES WITH POINTCAST
Psst! Here comes another push client: Headliner. It's a doozy. Headliner
lets you choose from over 600 channels which provide news on the Web. A
Headline news ticker can sit on your Windows 95/NT desktop, minimized on
your Taskbar, or in the active window of any running application, ready for
the click that will whisk you at network speed to breaking developments in
distant lands. If the PointCast client sucks up too much bandwidth, try a
thrifty Headliner screensaver. Among many nice touches, the story summaries
behind the headline let you preview news you may not want. Alerts can be
programmed with the nifty Headliner Manager component of the download
(useful for investors). Headliner Professional will let you add your own
channels. All the more reason to invite your boss to look over your
shoulder. You do work now and then, don't you? <http://www.headliner.com/>
WHAT YOU KEY IS WHAT YOU HEAR
Macolytes may yawn, but PC enthusiasts with sound cards will get a kick out
of this interactive text-to-speech synthesis, even if the male and female
voices you can generate on the fly with your keyboard sound disappointingly
computer-generated. Imagine a computer voice in a movie from the 1950s, and
you'll have a fair idea of the quality of sound here. In "English Advanced
Interface", you key in text to generate audio in .aiff, .au, or .wav format
in any of eight voices. You can also listen to files presynthesized in
Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, and Russian.
The pig Latin translator has no practical use that we can think of, but
this is an early (we hope) showcase of research for applications that
exploit Web technology. It's all pretty much tongue in cheek.
BOY, ARE WE EMBARRASSED
Of course the recent election in England (NSD 3.14) also took place in Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and other parts of the United Kingdom, since it was an election of the UK, and not just England. Also, the computer which is now tied 1-1 in chess games with Gary Kasparov is called Deep Blue, not Big Blue, which is its sponsor, IBM. We gotta stop doing these Digests at 2 a.m....
In NSD 1.18, we looked at a site devoted to Twain, from his literary
influence to his presence in contemporary culture. The site has moved and
upgraded to include weekly features, an events calendar, and Twain-specific
bulletin boards and live chat. <http://marktwain.miningco.com/>
Neuropsychology Central's Online Project
A year ago, we called the Neuropsychology Central (NP) Web design a
"cognitive perseverance test". The designers have listened, and made it
much nicer. It even has elevator music now. Anyway, The same guy who put up
the Web page is running an online survey on "Brain Injury and Safety:
Attitudes and Biases". It takes about five minutes, and won't make your
head hurt. Plus, you get some nifty images as a gift.
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