Alright. It's Friday once again and in the interests of "research" you've decided to spend some "quality time" looking through some sample players from the wild side of the Mac Web.

I've assembled this short collection of recommended Mac-retro, Mac-culture and Mac-obsessive sites that I hope will keep you entertained. Please be warned - what follows is not intended as an exhaustive list, just a few selected highlights to get this project started.

As such I'd like to invite you, the reader, to comment on the report using Macworld UK's excellent Forums, and if you know of a Web site we should have included within this round-up, please do suggest them in the forum.

So to the beginning:

Wired to Mac

The first place to go for the news of the Mac weird has to be Leander Kahney's excellent Cult of Mac column and blog.

It's an entertaining, sometimes irreverent, always thought-provoking collection of stories. In my opinion it proves the maxim that for a professional journalist, the best stories are the small stories - there's always a curious story behind them.

As a mark of the quality of Kahney's work it's worth pointing out that he's the man who recently penned the story claiming 80 per cent of workers on the Microsoft campus used iPods, and that the company's management was incandescent with rage at this. While Microsoft has publicly denied such claims, it has not sued - lending them some credence. Go. Explore. Enjoy.

Emulation nation

Still here? Good. You probably need something a little more visual, and that's where The Joy of Tech! comes in. This essential destination has been lovingly cared for by curator/cartoonists Nitrozac and Snaggy for years. It offers a visual feast of amusingly satirical cartoons for Mac users everywhere and is worth a look-see.

Visually, there's more treats in store at this site. It offers a number of features, including a complete version of itself accessed through an online emulation of a Mac Classic. You'll find everything a Mac retro fan could want here, from the first-ever Apple ad and a regularly updated selection of vintage Apple news.

Oh - and once you've taken a look at an old-school Mac OS, then you may want to check out the competition. This slick, modern, user friendly operating system emulation will clearly show why Windows maintains its market share.

After the Windows experience, emulation engines may have turned a little old hat, but do try to visit the dedicated WebSE site. This site offers a "graphic replica" of the original Apple Macintosh SE running System 7.0

Knowledge Is Power

As Reg Holdsworth reputedly said, "Knowledge is power". With this in mind dedicated Mac mavericks should maybe make a quick visit to the excellent Apple History site. Online since 1996 this site describes itself as the most complete list of Apple computers on the Web. It's there that you'll also find out that the first Apple logo design included Sir Isaac Newton, a tree and a banner that said "Apple Computer." Sir Isaac Newton is also reported to have said "Knowledge is power", though the phrase is supposed to have been coined by Sir Francis Bacon. Unfortunately, neither of those blokes appeared on Coronation Street, so I'm sticking with Holdsworth.

Speaking of Newton (you all remember Apple used to sell a handheld device called 'Newton', right?) Well, zap over to Calgary, Alberta and visit Grant Hutchinson's Hot Newton Server Action. This ancient handheld sits there serving up Web pages to visitors today. You'll get a unique page number, see how long the device has managed to run as a server without a reboot, and check the time, date and temperature. "If you're really desperate for a thrill, take a look at what's going down right now on my Newton's screen", he says.

Now you've seen the models, you may be interested in what Apple called the Macs while it developed them. Welcome to Apple Codenames, a massive database of Apple's internal codenames for products. Here you'll find out that Apple's always frowned on releasing information on products, and you'll see that the early codes were female names, then varieties of Apple, and only then did it move to pop culture, movies, or even beer.

Driving the industry

The greatest military tacticians of the time have always cautioned others to "know their enemies". Now you have learnt every code name and every detail of every Mac ever made, it's almost certainly time for some light relief. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer exists because your pleasure is his joy, at least that's how it appears. Check this amusing video of his special dance moves. We are certain he did this to attract more Mac users to move to Windows, ah - the charm, grace, elegance ..and sweat. There's a list of sites offering this unique public relations exercise here.

Once you've understood the error of your Mac ways, swing round to German Web site, Here you'll see pictures of Apple cars - cars that have been painted or otherwise personalized to reflect their driver's obsession with a computer platform. You'll find images from 25 countries.

Apple marketing

Some sites exist dedicated to gathering evidence of Apple's marketing efforts.

The Different District offers over 200 QuickTime movies of Apple's TV and cinema ads. You'll find them all, from Newton to G5, ads from before the Mac and even the infamous "1984" album that launched the platform. (Oh, by the way, for a 21st Century version of the genre-defining 1984 Macintosh ad, take a look here - remember who sent you).

Levity aside, 1984 remains a critical year for Mac users. Industrial Technology and Witchcraft recently digitized the only surviving video tape of the launch of the original Macintosh in January 1984. It features the entire launch - from Jobs' bow tie to the moment he pulls the Mac from the bag, and the huge grin he casts at the assembled early church of Mac at the now-gone Flint Center in Cupertino. Until recently the video had never-before been seen online.

If you need just a little bit more of a fix to keep the sickness away, you can also visit The Mothership. There you'll find a vast collection of scanned in advertising and brochures relating to the company. A huge resource for Mac history buffs.

Build stuff

One frequent complaint from PC users is that you can't build or modify your own Mac. They complain that this limits a users ability to build the system they want, and tweak it to perform the tasks they want. While not precisely an answer to this grievance, the Apple Collection's amusing DIY Macs may make for a step along the line.

Of course, building computers isn't everyone's idea of a Sunday treat. Surely there's something else to do? Well, some people have been there and got the T-shirt, or in this case, the fish tank. Take a look at an entertaining collection of aquarium-enabled Macs here. And no, there really is no point applying any memory upgrades.

Lego my Mac

Artist Tomi has quickly achieved Mac Web prominence with his Lego Mac-themed offerings. Most recently he revealed the PodBrix Keynote figure of Apple CEO Steve Jobs onstage at a keynote presentation. Only 300 of these were available – they cost $16.99, and sold out in 35 minutes.

It's Non-Mac but if you like the idea of Lego, you could also visit Remote Control Reggae, a site dedicated to a Lego ukulele-playing robot.

Seems to me that you can't get enough Lego. Here's all the information you could possibly need to help you build a Lego computer desk. You'll need a lot of glue and around 35,000 Lego bricks. You can find out more about this strange project here.

Desk not Mac enough for you? Well, there was a reason behind this, and here it is - the perfect complement to a Lego desk has to be...a Lego Mac to put on top of it. (Oh yeah, and if you have a particularly large office to put the Lego Mac and Lego desk in, then why not add a touch of class with this stunning Lego harpsichord?)

With your hi-tech office all set-up, you may want some gentle melodies to keep you ticking-over during the day. Here's a musician with a selection of
Mac-dedicated tunes
. Or you could try something by System 7.

I could go on forever on this piece, but I've hit 2,000 words and hope that I've managed to gather a nice sample collection of the diversity of the Mac Web.

After you've picked up the scurrilous comments of the day from As The Apple Turns, I suggest visiting the Macworld forum thread I mentioned before - introduce us to your favourite extreme Mac Web sites, and tell me off about the many I know (with a sinking feeling of regret) got missed in this report. Use the thread - it is what it is for. It's Mac users like yourself that make the Mac Web, so share your knowledge – It's Power!

Thanks to Alan Audio and Craig for some pointers in this piece.