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Leeds Local History Photographic Archive

http://www.leeds.gov.uk/archive

An online card index of old photos of Leeds may not sound the most interesting of sites, but these cleverly assembled pages manage to appeal both to historical researchers and to local nostalgists. With 1,000 shots online, and more to come, together with old film footage of visits by Asquith and the royals, the focus is less (as the title page asks) "where do you want to go today?", more "when?" The database can be searched by subject or area, and the results, a nice touch, can also be sent as Web postcards to friends. So surprise a loved one with a monochrome northern cityscape, or something more picturesque: "Horse tram No 58 outside Woodman Hotel, Otley Road, Headingley". A local history chatboard has already drawn responses from far-flung former residents in search of their, or their grandparents', youth.

The Mechanical Toys Page

www.nfra.nl/mgoris/mechtoys

Malcolm Goris is some kind of genius with junk, but teachers might not have wanted him in their class - he started making little projectiles out of matches and aluminium foil when only eight years old. The Dutch handyman now offers a whole siteful of ingenious contraptions - whimsical labours of love such as the cotton spool tank, the Ornithopter, and a tea-bag balloon - all designed and built by himself. Rubber-band guns, water-bombs and rockets - it's all good, bellicose, bargain-basement fun, and there's also a mousetrap car, driven by the spring from the trap and seemingly the subject of intense Internet competition to create. Goris advises caution with his version: "Be very careful when winding the string on to the drive axle. The trap is set and could go off in your hand."

104 Things to Do With A Banana

http://www.dmgi.com/bananas.html

It's not just another Japanese literary site: the bright yellow background gives the game away - this really is about bananas. It opens with an orchidaceous sculpture of banana skin and kitchen implements, but the main focus is gastronomic: 104 recipes already, and the target is one for each day of the year. (Contributions, please.) Recommended uses include: roast goose stuffing, cream of banana soup, banana porridge, banana and cabbage salad, and the piece de resistance, casserole of baked bananas with prunes. Links to what turns out to be a large online banana community, including Lee's Superfine Banana Label Collection (http://our world.compuserve.com/homepages/overmann/index.htm) - a comprehensive display of those little stickers, from Mexico to Mozambique.

Australian Skeptics

http://www.skeptics.com.au/

Incoming surfers are scrutinised suspiciously by a koala with a magnifying glass: these long-established and regularly updated pages aim to "investigate pseudo-science and the paranormal from a responsible scientific viewpoint". The big, trilingual site, drawing in part on a journal launched in 1981, continues in its raised-eyebrows approach to the Web world of astrology, spoon-bending, cults and creationism, while still finding time to have fun - the Tasmanian Skeptics have just held a fund-raising barbie, and for more cerebral pleasures there's a Random Fun Java Applet.

Zeppelin - The Airship

http://www.zeppelin-nt.com/

This official site concentrates on new product: after the lengthy post- Hindenberg hiatus, Multimission Airship LZ-NO7, otherwise known as Zeppelin- NT (New Technology, and no relation to the Microsoft product) took to the skies last autumn. Propeller, pitch and yaw, and gondola details are available here in English and German, along with suggested uses, including scientific research, patrol missions and even commuter services, though passenger inquiries are being deflected prior to testing. Among other lessons learnt over the years is that non-inflammable helium should be used as the lifting gas. Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH is a new offshoot of the more famous parent company, whose exploits are recorded by a number of detailed historical sites such as http://spot.colorado.edu/ dziadeck/zeppelin.html.

Bill Pannifer

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