This Week's Links


Eva’s Online Café




Second Cup:

Net Café Guide


Euro Cybercafes

Cafe Internet


Coffee Nervesno - it's not a hairpiece, just a bad haircut                                back to TTN home page
By Joe Harkins - Aug 26, 98

    There you are, virtually speaking, in San Ignacio, a small blip on the map of Belize, an English-speaking country nestled under the shoulder of the Yucatan Peninsula.

    So where in paradise can you go to check your email or get an Internet fix? Until the rapidly approaching day is here when you won’t be able to escape the beep of an incoming email on your wrist watch's wireless modem, cybercafes offer a comfortable alternative. And, while you’re at it, you even may be able to get a decent cup of coffee.

    At first, the concept of cybercafe was kind of murky. The initial suspicion was this was merely a hangout for web surfers who had maxed out the free AOL hours off one of those disks in a plastic sleeve attached to the back of every computer magazine. Then I found Cybercafe, a book and web site.

    "Cybercafes, A Worldwide Guide for Travelers" lists 530 cybercafes in 65 countries, including their exact hours, rates and equipment. Best of all, it even gives detailed instructions on how to find each location. In many countries of the world, street addresses are non-existent because residents hold to the charming but maddening pre-literate theory that if you don’t know where any given building is or what its next to or what used to be around the corner, you don’t belong there.

    That may well be the situation in Belize. I don’t know. Remember, this is a virtual journey. If you are ever there, check out the accuracy of the listing for Eva’s Online Café. If the web site is an accurate indicator, Eva’s tables are clean and the snacks are wholesome.

    When I first encountered the Cybercafe Guide on its web page, my initial greedy thought was, "Why would anyone buy the $9.95 printed book when the listings are all online and free?" Then I tried stuffing my 17-inch monitor and 300-meg Pentium MiniTower and Cannon printer into my backpack. Thank goodness, the pocket-sized guide fits nicely into one of the zippered pockets.

    One of the best things about the hard copy, aside from the portability that suggests print materials will be around for a long while yet, is the precise instructions on configuring your own computer to function with strange dial-ups or solving the mysteries of collecting your email through remote connections. As a bonus, certain cybercafes marked in the guide with a unique symbol have agreed to provide discounts and/or freebies to first-time visitors who display a copy of the book. It will take only a few spiffs like that to recover the cost of the printed edition.

    Another web site that does a good job of explaining these arcane secrets in plain English is RoadNews. They seem to deliver on the promise, "You can go online with ease, send and receive faxes, check your Email, and log onto your company's home computer, whether traveling in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Latin America, North America -- or anywhere in the world."

    Other cybercafe web sites have sprung up, but I still am perplexed as to how a traveler will use them on the road. For example, CyberCaptive may have accomplished a feat similar to that of teaching a dog to talk only to discover it hasn’t anything interesting to say.

    It’s true you can use its garish search engine interface to locate a cybercafe in Tokyo or Berlin, but unless you are going there or intending to sell them something, what’s the point? To make matters worse (better?) CyberCaptive is one of a number of Rings, organized groups of similar web sites that exchange links among themselves so users can surf from one to the other within the interest group but without risking exposure to web sites with dissimilar content.


Still if online lists of cybercafes, sans portable hard copy, are what you want, here’s a few of the more comprehensive.

(note: The material that appears below may or may not have been published in your local newspaper depending on the  available space in this week's edition.)

Second Cup:

Net Café Guide
This otherwise promising resource is less than what it could be thanks to an amateurish devotion to "kuh-well' graphics and banners. After clicking on three different menu items that seemed to promise a list of Cybercafes, but getting nothing but more graphics and banners, I gave up.

The listings are not as extensive as other sites claim, but whoever built the site understood that the information is what people come for and it delivers it simply and directly.

Euro Cybercafes
Lots of very good info on remote email retrieval and Cybercafe use, but it's virtually lost amidst the banners and self-congratulatory "awards." What is it about most cybercafe web sites that virtually all suffer from the same design excesses and lack of coherence? Maybe they should switch to decaf while building a site.

Cafe Internet
Drink coffee and play with computers on the Internet all day long; sounds like a plan. These folks want to sell you a franchise to do exactly that. I'm not convinced you couldn't find your own location, lease an expresso machine, buy some used furniture and be in business yourself without someone else's hand in your pocket but then, if that what you want, here's one place to find it.

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