If you still haven't made plans for New Year's, you might try spending the evening online. After all, the Web is your best source for Y2K info and maybe even a little millennial fun — before, during and after the big night.
READY OR NOT: On New Year's Eve, what if the lights really do go out in Georgia (and Michigan, for that matter)? If you've visited the American Red Cross' Y2K Preparedness page (www.redcross.org/ disaster/safety/Y2K.html), you'll be ready. Along with the requisite FAQ about the Y2K technology problem, you'll find an all-important checklist that details everything you need to do by the 31st — including filling your gas tank and buying flashlight batteries.
The guide to creating your "Family Disaster Supplies Kit" is essential reading. This genuine all-purpose earthquake / tornado / computer glitch survival pack is sure to bring flashbacks to Eisenhower-era fallout shelters. Got yer toilet paper? Check. Thermal underwear? Check. A gallon of water per person per day? Uh ... quick, someone fill up the bathtub.
DROP THE BALL: Even if you're not planning to party like a Prince on Friday night, you can still observe the unbridled bacchanalia of others — from a safe distance, of course.
No, I'm not talking about this year's Dick Clark TV special. Instead, log on to Earthcam's Webcast of the Century site (www.earthcam.com/newyears) and eavesdrop on partying worldwide. Touted as "the most wide-reaching Webcast production in history," the Earthcam site features live cameras at key locations all over the globe — including Jakarta (Indonesia), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Goa (India) and party central — New York City. The New York portion of the Webcast boasts 10 user-selectable cameras mounted at various locations around Times Square, as well as roaming cameras through the crowds. Plus, it's hosted by everyone's favorite Internet exhibitionist, Jenni of JenniCam fame (www.jennicam.com).
CAB IT: After you've surfed the Earthcam site, don't miss the NY-Taxi Cam (www.ny-taxi.com) — a wireless roving Web camera mounted inside the real taxi of longtime New York cabbie Clever Da Silva.
Da Silva's virtual taxi ride started last March, and has since attracted much industry attention. It was acquired by Realtime Web Network last July, and Da Silva is now a principal partner in the company. The NY-Taxi Cam goes live Friday evening and will operate throughout the night. Unfortunately, Da Silva's Cab Cam doesn't actually stream the video, but it refreshes automatically every 30 seconds. Still, it's a free ride and you don't have to leave a tip.
Y2K CONTRABAND: Speaking of Big Apple video, is there going to be a military takeover of New York City on New Year's Eve 1999? Well, probably not.
But Internet video artist Mike Zieper's streaming video — of a fictional government agent outlining the planned takeover — was considered dangerous enough by the FBI that the agency forced Zieper to remove it from the Net last month. The American Civil Liberties Union has since sued the federal government for allegedly coercing an artist to censor his work. According to the suit, Zieper's free speech was violated when the feds pressured Mark Weiger, Zieper's Web host, to remove the video from his site.
Said ACLU attorney Ann Beeson in a recent Wired Online news article, "This case is about whether or not we want the FBI to determine what films we are all entitled to see (online)."
The short film has since returned to Weiger's site (www.crowdedtheater.com), and it's already received close to a quarter of a million hits. View it this New Year's and decide: Is it art?
GLOBAL GREENERY: Looking to send a positive message to the whole planet on December 31? Jump onboard Greenmail 2000, Greenpeace's latest project to increase awareness of cleaner alternative power sources.
Greenpeace is sending its boat, the Tiama, south of New Zealand towards tiny Antipodes Island, where the first sunlight of the new millennium will hit the vessel's solar panels.
But before they do, log onto the Greenpeace Web site (www.greenpeace.org) where you can file personal greetings to friends and family. When the Tiama sees the first light of the 21st century, your greetings will be sent out over the Net using solar power. Greenpeace will even attach a color photo of the rising sun. Can you say, "Wish you were here?"
THINKING AHEAD: Finally, travel to the magical and mysterious world of the far-flung future at Y3K.com. That's right, Year 3000.
Created for "those who strive to look beyond the immediate future that most fixate upon," Y3K.com offers thought starters for change in the next millennium. You'll find an assortment of images and delightfully anarchistic aphorisms such as "The majority is inconsequential" and "Later is sooner than you think."
Starting at 10 p.m. on the 31st, Y3K invites you to join "the largest online worldwide collaboration ever organized" and share your thoughts about what the millennial transition could mean to the world.
Who knows? It might lead to greater insight, a fascinating conversation or maybe ... a date for New Year's 2999.