War in Lebanon and paintballs in the UK. Andrew North tours the best of the World Wide Web
Tragic Site: The Web has become a global billboard for anyone to express their feelings when tragedy or disaster befalls them. So it is no surprise to find that the home page of the Lebanese Club at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (http://www.mit.edu:8001/ activities/lebanon/leb.html) has been "painted" black, in "mourning for the atrocities happening in Lebanon."

"UN soldiers cried, reporters collapsed as they glimpse pieces that were once human beings. From the other end, not even an apology was heard, justifications, justifications." This is just a taste of the commentary on the killing of over 100 Lebanese civilians in the Qana UN camp, after it was hit by Israeli artillery shells. It is followed by a dark, melancholy poem by Lebanon's national poet Kahlil Gibran.

If you want news about the situation in southern Lebanon, there are links to Lebanon's Future TV and the Beirut Home Page, a collection of news and documentary material on the country, as well as various foreign media services.

Arty Site: Artists were one of the first groups to realise the Web's potential for promoting work. So BIG, the Brighton Illustrators Group (http://www.illustrator.org.uk) is being a little generous with the actualite in claiming to be "(probably) the first illustrators' organisation in the world to have its own World Wide Web site". But who cares? BIG offers a wide-ranging collection of illustrations on the site by 35 Brighton or Sussex-based artists.

The aim of BIG's Web site is to promote to potential clients, and you can search by category or look for a particular name. The main categories are cartoons, photo-realistic, wildlife, technical/ architectural, childrens' art and computer graphics. When you click on an individual artist, four thumbnail pictures appear and you can enlarge them if you want to see more.

Sneaky Site: Do you want to grass on your boss, or blow the whistle on someone else you don't like? If so, Whistleblowers UK (http://uk-commerce. com/whistle/index.htm) seems tailor-made for sneaky revenge.

This site promotes itself as being "for people who have a social conscience". Arrive on the homepage and you are asked if you are concerned about policy where you work. "Do you suspect that your company is breaking the law or that public money is being misused ... ?"

Whistleblowers UK invites your confidences. After filling in an online form, you give yourself a codename and it will then investigate. A message section on the Web site gives you feedback, so there is no need for e- mail.

The trouble is there is nothing to identify the organisation running this supergrass service. So there is no way of telling who you are giving information to, or where the responses are coming from. It is run on the server of UK-Commerce.com, which advertises itself as a Web publishing company, but there is no direct link to Whistleblowers from its homepage. Being a conspiracy-minded person, I can only assume it is the spooks from MI5 trawling for subversives.

Cyclists' Site: Planning a cycle holiday in Europe? You could do worse than pedal into the Trento Bike Pages (http:// www -math.science.unitn.it/ Bike/).

The site covers most European countries, including Britain. There is a host of trail descriptions and tour reports, aimed at mountain-bikers and on-road cyclists, and there are contributions from saddle-sore correspondents. The Bike Pages also carry a mixture of cycling literature and events listings, as well as links to other cycling resources on the Net.

Sad Site: Did you know you can be a professional paintball player? Neither did I, until I hooked up to the UK Paintball homepage (http://www.chem. rdg.ac.uk/g50/mmrg/gareth/ukpb/) which is "intended for both the professional player to speak to other pros and to discuss the sport, and to help new or novice players".

But it seems that paintballers are too busy shooting each other with red paint to bother with the Web. "These pages are still looking quite bare," the site's editor wails on the homepage. "I'd hoped that more people would want to contribute, but either I was hoping for too much or apathy has finally set in." But this apathy is afflicting the site editor, too: the pages have not been updated since February.

There is more bad news. Apparently, the European Paintball Sport Federation is running out of money because "too many players are not renewing their membership". The consequences could be dire, the site warns. "If this sport is ever to get recognition, we need a central body and we need to support it."

Research Site: Even by the Web's standards of free access, Research- It! (http://www.iTools. com/research-it/research-it. html) is an astonishing service. Using one online form, you can search English and computer dictionaries, thesauruses, language translators, lists of acronyms, quotations, maps, US phone numbers, postal information, package tracking, currency rates and stock quotes. It will also look up anagrams and conjugate French verbs. And there is an online King James Bible. Hallelujah!

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