Two pints and the Internet, please

Cyberpub/ technology on tap
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The Independent Online
IT WAS only a matter of time. Britain's first public house wired up to the Internet has opened its doors to drinkers and computer hackers in Nottingham.

Move over, darts players. From nine in the morning till 11 at night, the Cyberpub gives customers the chance to surf the universe with a pint in one hand and a computer mouse in the other.

For pounds 5 an hour (pounds 3 for students), drinkers can book time on the Internet, the worldwide computer network, at one of eight computer terminals. And there is no need to be intimidated by the technology. All of the Cyberpub's staff are computer-literate.

On a typical afternoon, business is brisk with upwards of 20 people, from teenagers to a couple in their forties, sitting in groups, staring intently at the screens. And judging by the curiosity displayed, the Cyberpub experience is catching on with customers.

To those who prefer a drink at the bar, the sight of glowing terminals, penned off in a raised gallery, may make them wonder where they are. According to Helen Piper, the Cyberpub's manager, plenty of people "pop in just to see what's happening."

"Some of the more curious ones will pluck up the courage and buy half an hour on the Internet,"adds Ms Piper. Which is just what four Nottingham Trent University social science students had done on Thursday.

Recommended to the Cyberpub by a friend, they had been there since lunch time, skipping lectures to explore other hackers' views on psychic horoscopes, aliens in the USA and abstruse philosophical theory.

"It is definitely good value with a student concession," says Sara Dunsheath. "And there's so much to access - this would make a great night out with friends."

The success of the experiment is not in doubt. Weekends are busiest, with more than 300 people a day. Ansells, who created the Cyberpub, plans to open ten more by the winter in the Midlands, Wales and the West Country.

Martin Grant, Ansells' managing director, said: "People want more from their leisure time, and as a pub company we have to respond to these changes with innovative new concepts."

Advice on DIY funerals is now available on the Internet, writes Roger Dobson.

The London-based Natural Death Centre has taken space on the World Wide Web to offer help to families planning to carry out green burials.

Advice includes the pitfalls likely to be encountered when someone wants to be buried in their back garden, and help on how to design cardboard coffins.

*The Internet address is http://www.protree.comm/worldtrans/naturaldeath.html.