Web of intrigue

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The Independent Culture

Just how much freedom of information should be allowed on the Internet has long been debated in America. One of the hottest topics is whether the government should own encryption tools - which stinks of Big Brother to those who think the Net shouldn't be policed. These people should be pacified somewhat by the FBI website. The Freedom of Information Act means Joe Public can now read the FBI's files, though some would say there is as much chance of finding the truth here as from watching The X-Files (right). You can read up on unusual phenomena, as well as on famous persons, history, espionage, violent crime and gangsters. Cut down to size, there are interesting titbits to add to what you've already gleaned from The National Enquirer. It is a shame the site doesn't include pictures.

Football pitch


The music festivals were not the only casualties of World Cup fever. Research has shown that Internet use fell by a third during World Cup matches. Despite this, websites have been dismally slow to catch on to the sporting market. Only now has the rush begun to improve the present offerings before the football season kicks off. The new UEFA web site (www.uefa.com) claims to offer the ultimate on-line football experience: minute-by-minute live reporting, news and analysis. Yet there isn't much chance the written word will drag viewers from the television, so an alternative is "Football Links: the Ultimate Page" (www.users.globalnet.co.uk/emmas/). Here you can warm-up for the match with trivia, skill tips plus football club pages. It's in the super league of sport websites.

The Net has enjoyed a riot of pranks in the last few months. Earlier this summer, the media was caught with its pants down after the story of a couple about to lose their virginity live on the Net turned out to be a scam by a company known to dabble in porn. Then the news circulated that a Florida woman was intending to give birth live on the Internet, until the police saw the site and it emerged she was wanted for passing bad cheques. The Miserable Old Git site, however, epitomises a more common and harmless wind-up on the Net. Don't be taken in by the spoof banner ads for horny housewives and utterly salacious sex parlours; this is a popular silly site packed with bad-taste jokes.

Site for sore eyes




The virtual tour of Fuller's Old Bank is a quick route to the 24-hour pub. You can download a screen saver of your favourite brew, take a trip round a brewery or find your nearest Fuller's pub. And it has its own Malcolm Gluck in Fuller's wine-buyer Roger Higgs.

www.historychannel. com/thisday

Three new topics have been added to the popular "what happened today" feature of this informative website: Civil War History, Wall Street and Automotive. You can also search for historic events on any particular day.


The Health Education Authority has produced a site to make you think more about your activity patterns. An alternative to the health info currently found in stale leaflets, this site is worth getting in a sweat over, with a softly, softly attitude to exercise, and nifty Shockwave Flash 3.0 technology.