Lined up for the summer of sport

Sites; Olympic Games mania has taken over the Internet,
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Olympics Sites: I mentioned the local newspaper's Atlanta Olympics site (http:// www.atlantagames.com/) some time back and sort of promised that would be the end of it. But with so many new Olympics-related sites appearing in the run-up to the games, I felt I could not ignore them.

I'm not just talking about IBM's monster official site (http://www.atlanta. olympic.org/), which offers everything from live TV images to ticket information. No, to get the flavour of how Web-people are responding to the Games, check out some of the sites pushing unusual accommodation deals, such as Rex's Olympics Rental Home Page (http://www. ticllc.net/rexhome/olyrent1.htm). Only when I'd dug a little deeper into the site, complete with picture of the sunset view from Rex's house, did I learn that it had been booked up ages ago ....

There is also the Netlanta Olympics Service (http://www.intadv.com/olympic.html), which claims to offer rental accommodation all over Atlanta, as well as transport information and other essentials for the Olympic tourist. You can search online through 15 city districts. Don't worry, you won't need to specify a swimming pool, fitness centre or tennis court-these are all standard options. Trouble is, there seems to be no way of booking a house, except by phoning the service long-distance. And that is not the way things are supposed to be done on the Net.

If you decide males are getting too much coverage, you might want to check out the Women's Olympics site (http://www.womensports.com/olympics). Except that its creators are guilty of that very American type of discrimination of largely failing to mention women from nations other than the US.

Next in my Olympian search, I turned to our home-grown creations and the spectacularly dull official British Olympics Association site (http://www.olympics. org.uk/boa/boaidx.html). Enough said. But the joint site put together by the BBC and the Press Association (http://www.bbc.co. uk/olympics/) is looking good. It has everything you would expect, such as an events calendar, live results, profiles, news and features, pictures and sound. It also served up some interesting trivia, such as the fact that Britain's medal haul at the last Olympics was the lowest since 1976. Our best ever year was 1908, when we still had an Empire and pulled in 145 gongs. But I guess that was in the days when we had only just invented all the games and no one else knew how to play them.

Cycle Network Site: While the computer network that is the Internet has been forcing itself noisily into popular consciousness, another kind of network has been taking shape more quietly across Britain, announcing its presence only with the faint whirr of cycle wheels. Enough purple prose. I'm talking about the National Cycle Network, because Sustrans, the charity responsible for the project, now has its own Web site (http://www.sustrans. org.uk/). As well as information on Sustrans, the site offers regional maps of the 6,500 miles of cycle routes making up the Network, with colour keys to tell you when sections are due to be completed.

You can join the charity via the site, or if you are seeking more active involvement you can sign up for its trail-blazing ride along sections of the network from Northern Ireland to Lands End by printing out an on- line form. The ride begins today, but runs until 17 August. There is also a good selection of links to other cycle sites.

Rail Site: Continuing on the transport theme, it is a good time to take a swipe at the UK Railways site (http://www. rail.co.uk/ ukrail/home.htm). I first looked at this site two months ago, but as it was pretty bare and seemed to be promising imminent improvements, I thought I'd wait a while. But when I went back the other day, nothing seemed to have changed - it was like an abandoned station.

Expecting it to yield some timetable information, my first stop was at a link labelled "Travel Planner", but all it produced was a page saying "Departure Imminent". I got the same response when I tried the sections labelled "UK Route Map" and "Station Info". To be fair, there was a national list of engineering work in the "Weekend Travel" section, but the actual "Engineering Work" page produced yet another "Departure Imminent". Confusing, but I guess it's just a reflection of the state of the rail system itself. To get things rolling on what is at the moment a largely useless site, I suggest you tell the "StationMaster" what you think - after all, he does invite your comments.

Campaign Site: Where better for the campaign against John Birt's restructuring plans for the BBC World Service to seek support than the global audience of the Web? Their new campaign site (http:// www.longitude0.co.uk/save- ws) invites you to send e-mail protests to the Director General and the Chairman. Apparently, a significant number of BBC domain name browsers have already been sniffing round the site.

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