Websites: Beetlemania is back


"Do you have a life?" is one of the Frequently Asked Questions here. "Yes, I do, I think," replies the Dutch creator of this site, a claim in some ways hard to dispute, since his daily routine is wired to the Internet. Every room in his house is monitored: from the front door onwards, sensors and webcams log exits and entrances and all the activity in between. The fridge has not only a Fridgecam but an itemised list of its entire contents, entered by means of bar codes. "The world's first online trash bin" similarly records the rubbish. Yes, there is a cat-cam, but luckily not a toilet cam. Visitors are also invited to program the occupant's alarm each morning by voting from a shortlist of MP3 music files. This amusing experiment has lots of possibilities - supermarkets could automatically replenish next day's groceries based on the bin contents, for example - and could also be the blueprint for a surveillance nightmare.

The New Beetle

At the US launch of the "people's car" for the new millennium, it seems executives were made to dress in floral shirts and wear flowers in their hair, in homage to the Beetle's nostalgic and vaguely hippy image. The UK site also does its best to humanise its hi-tech Shockwave attack. It's doubly flashy, in fact, since the site also includes a Flashing Lights game - claimed to be an internationally recognised sign of friendship between Bug owners - and the idea is to beam a friendly flicker at passing Beetlemaniacs without losing points by dazzling a police car. Such a habit implies the need for sunglasses, and here they are along with other Beetle merchandise soon to be available online: except the car itself, which won't be available until late in 1999.

Arts and Letters Daily

This page affects the look of an old newspaper complete with masthead and antiquated typeface. The limited, but useful, aim of these cyberfogeys is to offer selected links to items of cultural and literary interest elsewhere on the Web, from Salon to The Independent.

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