Check it Out: Hi-tech Alternatives

THERE MUST be something about the approach of a new millennium that makes people want to go all technological. Whatever the reason, even "alternative" aspects of contemporary life are repackaging themselves into hi-tech phenomena. If you're seeking peace of body, mind or soul, there's almost certainly a futuristic gadget out there to help you achieve it.

If you're searching for something to soothe the soul, forget the odd wind chime here and there, these days even feng shui has gone digital. The latest feng shui website offers an interactive service that will let even troubled travellers bring feng shui to their hotel room. Simply connect up to the site, pay by credit card (pounds 11 per room) and sit back while Kate Lord and Huw Griffiths, the online feng shui consultants, assess your surroundings.

Patience will be necessary, however. The site is still in its teething stage so there is a long wait while all the images load up - the suggestion is that you scroll through the instructions in the pop-up window to pass the time - and my computer put down a very bad ch'i foot by refusing to let me access the service.

If your computer is more generous, start at the beginning and read the consultants' biographies, catch up on the latest celebrity visitors and browse the example room report before going to "start". After tapping in the direction of the room's door, you use the computer to "draw" a picture of the room and then, after paying the necessary cash, wait for the report to materialise.

Once you've taken the site's advice and got your living space sorted, move onto the mind with an Astropath. For those who secretly scan the papers for the horoscopes, pounds 19.99 will buy a whole year's worth of detailed daily astrological predictions. These nattily named machines look reassuringly like the calculator included in its range of functions (so no one need know what you're up to) and are available for each sign of the zodiac.

To find out your horoscope on any day in 1999, click on the `horoscope' button, punch in the date and scroll across the battery-powered LCD screen. Compiled by a team of professional astrologers - including Nicholas Campion, the president of the Astrological Association of Great Britain - the horoscopes are enticingly frivolous but, as with all things astrological, whether you decide that they are accurate or not largely comes down to your own beliefs.

Sceptics will be put off by the detail (claims that I wrote poetry yesterday did not materialise), but it's fun, would make a great present and has all kinds of useful functions. The Astropath helps you choose numbers for the National Lottery, houses the afore-mentioned calculator and an alarm clock and even works out emotional and professional compatibility with other people for each day of the year. Blimey!

The latest scheduling accessory is also related to astrology although it's not an astrological calendar. The Greta Kahn Moon Diary (pounds 5.95 plus 45p P&P) is based around "moon knowledge". The diary laments the fact that "the best time to sow seed or to cut wood ceased to be a theme in the lives of bankers and office workers", but it aims to change all that and use the same principles as are used in agriculture to help organise the hip urbanite's hairdressing year.

Strange, but apparently it's true. The different planetary positions and stellar constellations throughout the lunar cycle transmit "cosmic energies" which affect us physically.

The effect of all this is that a waxing moon is the ideal time for cutting and nourishing hair treatments whereas a waning moon is a better time for cleansing. Certain days are good for colouring and anti-dandruff treatments and other days - "water" days - are bad for pretty much everything except structure-improving treatments.

Before you so much as turn a page in the diary, you must have your hair analysed then, once you've pinpointed its type, you can consult the diary to find out what you should or shouldn't do to your hair. Each day of the year has an entry listing whether it's a good or bad day for cutting, perming or pretty much everything to do with your hair as well as space to scribble down all the necessary hair appointments.

In case you're wondering, today is a good day for cutting your hair if you want to increase volume and encourage rapid growth. Hair care treatments will be effective and oxidising and bleaching processes will work well... it doesn't say anything about washing, but I think I'll risk it.

Rhiannon Batten

The feng shui website is at www.online-fengshui.com; for Astropath stockists, call 0171-229 9394; copies of `The Moon And Your Hair' can be ordered from www.gretakahn.com or by phone on 0181-886 7720

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