Roll up, roll up, Jimmy Goldsmith needs you

sites: Andrew North logs on to the Referendum Party Web site and considers the prospect of parliamentary candidacy
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Referendum Site: do you want to become a candidate in the next election? The Referendum Party Needs You. Read another way, the party is desperate. Log on to their newly established home page (http:// www. referendum.org. uk/), click on "Register" and you can request an interview as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate. If you are of a meeker disposition, you can sign up as a helper.

Needless to say, much of the site is reserved for stuff on the party's aims and beliefs, accompanied by articles with titles such as "Why won't they let you decide?" and "We face the extinction of our great nation". Also, check out "For the record", a page devoted to rebutting all the "myths" about the party and its leader, Sir James Goldsmith.

Weather Site: searching for the sunniest place to sit and write this piece over the weekend, I thought I'd give the Met Office's Web site (http://www. meto.govt.uk/) a try. But finding detailed weather forecasts here is like searching for a rain cloud over Yorkshire. The Met Office is apparently not in tune with the Web ethos of "free information". "Information free" seems to be more their line. All they provide is a daily forecast for the whole country, with no regional breakdown. No better than those daft TV summaries, where the sponsors' plug takes up more space than the weather. The boating and shipping community might find the site more useful, as it has the inshore waters and shipping forecasts. But how many ships have a Web connection?

The Met Office is plainly well used to such criticisms, because it has posted a note on the home page saying that they are "limited by our obligation to develop commercial products where possible." But why bother with this site?

Grovel Site: relationship trouble? Mark's Apology Note Generator (http://net.indra.com/ karma/letter.html) was set up solely for the man who needs to grovel to his girlfriend, wife, partner, significant other, etc. He has now added what he calls Mark's Bitch Letter Generator for Women - for women who want to abuse their spouses electronically. He says he was asked to do an apology generator for women, "But I just couldn't do it. It wasn't in me. In short, women don't apologise." You can punch in an e-mail address if you want the note sent on.

Rwanda Site: some may feel the Web is too frivolous a place for coverage of Rwanda's recent tragedies. But Rwanda News (http://www.interpac.be /rwanda/) serves as a means of maintaining at least some kind of public awareness of the country's plight, while the mainstream media largely ignores it. One of the unique attributes of Web publishing is that it provides a permanent noticeboard and information source, as well as reacting to events as they happen - though only, of course, if people visit the site.

The site has sections on the country's history, the 1994 massacres and refugee crisis, as well as a forum for aid workers operating in the region to post articles and comment. There is also an optimistically titled section on "The return to normalcy".

Robert Graves Site: eleven years after he died, the work of the poet and novelist famous for I, Claudius has been immortalised on the Web, in the Robert Graves Archive Home Page (http://www.presence.co. uk/hippeis/ELA/gravesw.htm). The site offers a list of individual and institutional holders of material on Graves, as well as transcriptions of many of his poems. But the highlight is a collection of recordings of Graves reading some of his poems and an excerpt from The White Goddess. Played on RealAudio, through my crackly Mac speaker, it really did sound like he was talking from the grave. Spooky.

Wimbledon Site: one of my first memories of using a computer - probably a Sinclair ZX Spectrum - is playing one-man tennis, where you hit an oblong- shaped ball and it cruises across the screen at distinctly un-Becker-like speed, giving you time to dance a jig and make a cup of tea before returning it.

So when I found the official Wimbledon Tennis Championships site (http://www.wimbledon.org/) I was hoping there might be an updated version of the game online. No such luck. What it does offer, though, is a live results service, updating as matches progress, coupled with images taken from the TV feeds. It also provides a full draw and match schedule up to the last day of play on 7 July, ticket information, biographies of the competitors and a history of the championships.

Game Site: Web games that make full use of the medium's interactive potential are still relatively rare. But the bunch behind Riddler (http://www. riddler.com/) have come up with something quite special.

It is a collection of six games, three of them using Java, which can win you real prizes. They range from daily riddles for single players to multi-player "live" challenges. In the King of the Hill trivia quiz, you play two other contestants, communicating via a "chat" window. There is also a three-player crossword competition. Riddler admits that contestants with a fast modem will have an advantage in the multi-player games.

The object of all the Riddler games is to collect as many electronic tokens - known as Caps and Riddlets - as possible, which can be traded in for prizes.

Each player is given a minimum of 2,500 Riddlets when you register and you trade in Caps for prizes. Full instructions are on the site.

I thought the Bloodhound game was a great idea. In essence, it is a treasure hunt on the Web, in which you have to sniff out a site on which Caps have been hidden. Get sniffing.

C4 site: better late than never, Channel 4 has finally arrived on the Web (http://www.channel4. com). It goes live today, boasting programme listings that can be tailored to your own viewing preferences, as long as you register. The site also offers previews, competitions, links and information on particular programmes. Followers of the gruelling three- week Tour de France cycle race can check the site for details of riders, stages and daily results. You don't have to register to use the service, but Channel 4 is trying hard to persuade you to hand over those lucrative personal details. Registered users will be entered into a draw to win pounds 1,000 in real (not cyber) cash.

Network editor: David Bowen. network@independent.co.uk

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