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Greet the new year on the Web

Ring in the new year with one of several sites that help the cyber-inclined celebrate from afar.

    You've decided to ring in the new year with a quiet night at home but you still want a little of that new year cheer--so long as the crowds are virtual only.

    No problem. Many Web sites are helping the cyber-inclined celebrate from afar.

    Want to watch the glitter ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve? Tune in to, which will cybercast the event, as will Intervu.

    Netizens also can surf over to the Seattle Space Needle, where they can witness--albeit secondhand--the "AT&T New Year's at the Needle" fireworks show at 11:30 p.m. PT.

    The cybercasts will offer all of the sights, but with none of the crowds. Of course there will be none of the champagne, either, but the Internet still has a ways to go before the advent of virtual champagne that can tickle your nose.

    One advantage available to cybersurfers is a sneak peek into Hugh Hefner's annual New Year's Eve party, from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. PT at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.

    While it's not quite as good as an actual invitation, Netizens can watch from the glow of their PCs as Hugh and his celebrity guests--"asked to don black tie or lingerie," according to a press release--dine on sumptuous foods and dance to the sounds of a live orchestra. The broadcast features interviews and several video feeds.

    Those hungry for the feed will have to pay, however, as the broadcast only will only be accessible to members of the subscription-only Playboy Cyber Club. The rest of the world will have to settle for scraps--occasional audio feeds and updated still pictures available on the main Playboy site.

    Your favorite portal site, however, surely will be offering plenty of free surfing opportunities. Just type in "New Year's Eve" and you're off and running, to sites like New Year's Eve 1999!.

    Party on, and remember to give a friend your car keys if you indulge before taking a New Year's drive on that information superhighway.