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The Sun Microsystems Open

http://www.999.com/sunopen/english/

Given Java and enough patience for the download, anyone can "have a go" in this online golf tournament, which must be one of the most sophisticated sporting sites on the Web. On display is a 3D representation of the Turnberry course in Scotland, with a detailed graphic of each of the 18 holes. Press "play" and a control panel pops up to allow selection of club and striking angle; the area of the ball to be hit; striking stance as seen from above; and rotatable, flight simulator-style perspectives of the relevant stretch of course, if required as seen from the ball's own point of view. It's still possible just to practice, but the preliminary round itself is now under way and the final begins in March. The winner gets a trip to the real Turnberry, though competitors already in the UK might prefer the Hawaiian option.

Korean News

http://www.kcna.co.jp/index.htm

The Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea makes it to the Web, with a rather spartan agency site consisting of news items, all in capitals, and a daily black and white photo - the same for a few days now - of the birthplace of the Great Leader, Kim Il Jong. The perspectives could, at a pinch, be called refreshingly different: a recent lead story was that Rwanda, of all places, is getting ready to celebrate Kim's birthday, presumably in the absence of more pressing problems. There's lots of material on the industrial and economic crises afflicting the country's neighbour to the south, and a token piece of cultural/ environmental coverage about the Korean pheasant, "a lovely and smart bird", with details of its wing span in centimetres. It's perhaps unfair to labour the irony of the site's Japanese origination.

The Mini

http://www.mini.co.uk

Designer Sir Alec Issigonis offers a conspiratorial wink from the title page of this witty, technically clever official site, which squeezes on board every joke and cultural reference ever made about the iconically uncomfortable vehicle, from the film The Italian Job to the record number of insertable students (24, apparently). There's actually an online version of "sardines" here: a series of long-haired figures in flares can be prodded one by one into the car using the cursor, in a sort of gleeful, if verging on sadistic, human jigsaw against the clock. The centrepiece, though, is the opportunity to design one's own vehicle, with both commercially available and fantasy options: it is quite possible to to choose pop-out eyes instead of headlights, a radiator grille with a starving prisoner clutching at the bars from within, deckchairs for seats, handlebars for steering, and instead of a roof, gothic turrets: as the site says, an Englishman's home is his car.

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine

http://www.sonic.net/bristlecone/intro.html

When, in Vertigo, Kim Novak points to the cross-section of a tree trunk and says, "Here I was born ... and here I died", she's practising dendrochronology, the dating of past events through climatic changes revealed in the study of tree-ring growth. The stars of this site, however, have names such as Buddha, Socrates, Prometheus and Methuselah: here is a scientifically informative but also poetic tribute to the Earth's oldest living inhabitants, complete with evocative images of gnarled, claw-like pines on the windswept slopes of California's White-Inyo mountain range. Along with details of the tree dating process, which can provide information almost as far back as the last Ice Age, there are tales both haunting and cautionary. Bristlecones stay standing for centuries after death - something to do with the anti- bacterial resin and the dry air. Even the live ones, though, are powerless against the predations of eager doctoral researchers. One such, in the Sixties, obtained permission to chop down "Prometheus", only realising after the event that it was 4,950 years old and he had killed the oldest living thing on earth.

Nikki's AOL diskette present collection

http://www.neosoft.com/nikki/

Most magazines these days come with a free floppy disk attached to the cover, often an enticement to join up with AOL or CompuServe or similar service. The author of this page finally flipped when her in-flight peanuts on a plane to Tennessee arrived complete with a floppy disk, and from then on she devoted her life to devising what might be called extra-cybernetic applications for the medium. The site offers imaginative alternative uses for the disks, including a "hanging mulberry pot-pourri", photo frames, place-card holders, kitchen clocks and various Christmas decorations. All you need are a few extra bits and pieces like pipe cleaners, glue and paint. The revenge of the quotidian is both sweet and terribly twee

Bill Pannifer

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