Go on, take a plunge


Diving Site: So frustrating, but so common. You find a useful- looking Web site, poke around it for a bit, gradually becoming more impressed, but then find it is spectacularly out of date. That is what happened when I paddled into the UK Diving Resource (http:// www.cru.uea. ac.uk/ukdiving/ index.htm). Like many such adventure sports sites, it is an independent creation, running on a university server and therefore with all the raw, non-corporate appeal that implies.

There are sections on equipment, diving sites, the Red Sea, underwater wildlife, pictures, links to diving organisations, stolen kit and more besides. But when I clicked on "UK Diving News", the most recent item I found was for 25 November 1994. So much for the impending demise of the high-street newsagent. Predictably, my opinions on this site took a sudden dive.

Soldiers' Site: The British Army has marched on to the Web (http://www.army.mod.uk). Comfortingly, the announcement of this great event was accompanied by a battalion-load of cliches. If the launch of the site had not been dubbed "D-Day", I would have been severely disappointed.

The site's two big guns (excuse the metaphors) are its downloadable screensaver, offering a selection of action-man video-clips and "The Army World Challenge", an online game. Successful players have the chance (now don't get too excited here) to "send an e-mail to the director of army recruiting to receive recruiting brochures", because that is the site's underlying objective - to pull in new troops. These days, large posters of moustachioed generals pointing their fingers and shouting "Your Country Needs You" will not do. You have to trawl through cyberspace. For God's sake, what is the nation coming to?

Poets' Site: You can see the attractions of the Web for striving poets. With so few publishers prepared to take a risk with unknown names, they can spend years constructing wondrous iambic pentameters without anyone noticing. On the Web, you get a global audience with minimal cost. In fact, to get your work into "Snakeskin", a monthly Webzine of poetry (http:// homepages.nildram. co.uk/ simmers/) all you have to do is submit your work by e-mail. The current issue focuses on rhymed poems and includes work from regular contributors and "the poetry Internet in general". You can browse through their back editions to look at other collections.

Translators' Site: Need a 1,000-year-old Aramaic parchment translating? Or perhaps you want an advert to be written in Hebrew. Instead of a tedious search through the Yellow Pages, you could try the Aquarius translators' database (http://www.xs4all.nl/ jumanl/). There is a quick search option, or you can search by "source" or "target" language. I only found one translator claiming expertise in Aramaic, but there is a wide choice of specialists for more common languages and they are adding new people all the time. If you are a translator looking for work, it might be worth getting in touch. You can apply online and you will then be given your own page to promote your linguistic skills. The site also has a bulletin board where translators can post notices about job vacancies or other fascinating news from the polyglot world.

London Walks Site: They are far from modest about the plaudits they have received from travel guides and tourists, but the homepage of London Walks (http://scim.co. uk/londonwalks/) is a handy site. There are too many giant travel information services on the Web and some seem to have been compiled straight out of a travel agency brochure.

Your time is better spent finding specialist sites such as this one. London Walks provides details of all the walks it runs, including the popular Jack the Ripper tour.

Windy Site: Oh dear, another site that needs a few cobwebs blowing away. It is the home of the Wind Turbine Research Group (http://www.cranfield. ac.uk/sme/ppa/wind/), a bunch of scientists who are dedicated to the environmentally friendly mission of installing forests of white-painted windmills on picturesque hilltops around the country. But the residents of Devon and Cornwall should be most concerned, judging from the map of wind farms. There seems to be a thicket of wind farms on the coasts of these counties. The site also had various bits of data for expert windies. But when I clicked on "Overview of current technology", I was disappointed to find nothing had been added since October 1994.


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