Netgains: Hark the Christmas cash tills ring

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The Independent Culture

It may be too late to do any last-minute on-line Christmas shopping, but you can still take a seasonal look at the best (and worst) that the web has to offer at Web.Scan (www. scan/1997/scan12.html). Despite reservations about the over-commercialisation of what was once solely a religious festival, the site does manage to retain a fair balance and has links to many different sites. You can surf on-line megastores, read about what Christmas might be like without Christ, check out the sky at night and discover some Christmas facts.

Biblical Accounts of Christmas ( tmuth/st_john/xmas/scrip.htm) offers a more traditional view of the religious holiday season, while has something for the shameless materialist in all of us. This well-designed exercise in commercialism is billed as "your personal Christmas experience" with lists of recipes, what's happening around the world, holiday entertainment and gifts. The Christmas Pages ( above) mix consumer and information aspects with a range of services including a Santa's virtual letter, on- line shopping, contests and jokes.

Finally, with just a few days to either Armageddon or a damp squib, www.encyberpe bills itself as the ultimate Y2K resource. So, if you're worried about any aspect of the millennium bug, check out the phenomenal range of related links. If it's not here, it's probably beyond your control.

Live and let die

After the excesses of Christmas, you may feel like you're on your last legs, so visit www.test.the and find out how long you really do have left. Mundane questions about height and weight are followed by a series of increasingly odd enquiries, such as how often you ride a mechanical bull or talk to strangers. Finally, an estimate of your life expectancy is proffered (it's stressed that the authors are not doctors), along with some health statistics related to your test.

But before you die, you owe it to yourself to see at least a few of the world's great buildings, and the easiest way to do this is by visiting www.greatbuildings. com/. A fascinating website, this interactive database details many of the world's great structures - you can view hundreds of buildings 3D models, photographics and architectural drawings, plus much more. It's so good you may just be inspired to go and see the real thing.