- People who think that if they pretend to rub their face while making offensive gestures that only the people they want to see will realise what is happening.
- People who assume that that is what I’m doing when in fact I’m just rubbing my face. How do they think that started?
There’s literally no excuse for making a whole website in Flash. It’s just not how you do these things. It’s like uploading a YouTube video of scrolling text, or making a Twitter account connected to nothing but an RSS feed. It won’t work on screen readers, most phones or many computers. It will need more CPU and more memory, you can’t usually link to individual pages, they load slowly, you have to implement things like scrollbars from scratch which means mouse-wheels, trackpad scrollers and keyboard shortcuts don’t work and the scrollbar itself behaves strangely or incompletely, most search engines can’t crawl it, browser functions like in-page find don’t work, often you can’t copy-paste from it, and it won’t reshape itself to unusually sized windows. There’s just no excuse.
Cleverer people than corporate webmasters have designed web standards over two decades and by now they’re pretty damn good (though still way off ideal). You can do very impressive stuff without even invoking Flash, and the sheer arrogance of these people to think they can design a better site from the ground up is bewildering.
Probably, many of them are just following orders from managers who want Flash sites and don’t understand the issues with them. I don’t care. That’s not an excuse. It didn’t fly at Nuremberg and it won’t fly here.
Snap Shots is a website which claims to be “the world’s most popular way to give your users a more fun and interactive experience on your site or blog”. What it actually is is a spectacularly annoying collection of boxes that pop up at random as you move the cursor about the screen. It neatly encapsulates all that is wrong with the internet.
For one thing, it’s enabled on a site-level by publishers. That’s great for Snap.com’s business model, but it’s a disaster for the end-user, because while some people may perversely consider the intrusions useful, and may want them to appear on this blog, I think that they get in the way, make selection difficult, and don’t add anything worth having, so I’m never going to install them — but I do have to put up with them on other people’s sites, because the ‘disable’ mechanism doesn’t work properly. (This is important: if for whatever reason you incorrectly like Snap Shots, please bear in mind that you are not offering your users a choice: you are inflicting your preference on them.) This sort of thing should be a browser extension, not a ‘feature’ of individual webpages. It’s either useful everywhere or nowhere and site-level activation makes no sense.
Also I don’t like their rhetoric:
Snap Shots Engage looks for certain key phrases within your site and connects them with the best content in the world. And you don’t even have to write a link.
Snap Shots Engage is an exciting development that could significantly change the way people write for the Internet by both recognizing the meaning of what they say and then enriching it with related content.
Mostly though, I just don’t accept the premise: I don’t think it’s useful for large frames to appear on a mouseover event. Links already have the status bar and title tags for this purpose, and the enormous ‘Snap Shot’ that appears is very annoying if I roll the mouse over a link accidentally or (gasp!) in order to click on it. Most link mouseover events are incidental, and anything beyond highlighting the link is a bad thing.
This sort of thing is quite enough to put me off visiting a website at all. If my experience of your website is that I get angry when I read it, I’ll just stop reading it.
Apparently, Bill Gates, best known for announcing that nobody would ever need more than 640kB of RAM and then releasing an operating system that needs a gigabyte to run well, has said the days of the keyboard are numbered:
People will increasingly interact with computers using speech or touch screens rather than keyboards, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said.”It’s one of the big bets we’re making,”
In five years, Microsoft expects more Internet searches to be done through speech than through typing on a keyboard, Gates told about 1,200 students and faculty members Thursday at Carnegie Mellon University.
No. We’ll be typing.
For one thing, I work in a shared office. The last thing I need while I’m trying to write a document is to listen to another document that someone else is writing. I certainly don’t want them to hear my initial “zero’th draft” versions. The same applies to internet searches. I don’t want to be constantly announcing what I’m doing to anyone else who might be in the room at the time. Nor do I want to hear what they’re searching for. It’s totally impractical for the business user and I can’t imagine home users wanting it either. Aside from anything else, I rarely type a page of text in the order in which it will appear, and I wouldn’t have thought that it would be at all intuitive to speak in that way.
Maybe it’s just me. Perhaps everyone else would love to talk to their PC instead of typing. But I doubt it.
This is a trailer for a documentary film about Guantanamo Bay. I include it because there’s a clip in it I want to point out. Anybody who saw The Late Edition on BBC4 the other day will have seen the same clip. It’s Donald Rumsfeld defending Guantanamo Bay. It’s pretty well right at the start of the video, and the really interesting bit comes right after the word “convention”.
I say “interesting”. Really “shocking” or “indefensible” or “moronic” would have been a better choice. In any case, there’s really not a lot else that can be added to that. And I can’t imagine any context in which that clip could be placed to make it seem okay, with the possible exception of immediately after an interviewer asking “how might a belligerent thug defend conditions in Guantanamo Bay?”. The conditions in Guantanamo are “consistent with the Geneva convention for the most part“. What an utter cunt.
I just have one question:
What the fuck is a “Quantum of Solace”?
Bond films are meant to be called short snappy things like “Thunderball” or “Moonraker”, phrases with the word ‘die’ shoehorned into them, like “Live and Let Die” or “Die Another Day”, or something like “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” or “Casino Royale” that’s just jam-packed with Bond imagery. Or anything with gold. They could have called it “Die in the Springtime” or “One Shot Kill” or “Goldmaster” or anything.
Quantum of Solace, indeed… I never heard of such a thing.
Californication isn’t a word. It is, however, a song, and it’s one that uses the relatively uncommon rhyming pattern ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAA’. This is phenomenally lazy, because there are so many, many words ending in ‘-ation’, including nouns and verbs, that there’s one for almost any definition you can think of, so finding rhymes for ‘californication’ is very easy, even setting aside the fact that the most common one they use is made up. Not only that, but the lines are so long that you can get across a fairly complex message before you have to use an ‘-ation’ word Given all this, you can pretty well sing about anything using this rhyme pattern without having to think very hard. Observe:
The aim of golf is to get the ball in a very small indentation.
It’s proving very popular as a means of recreation.
You even get a little car to save perambulation.
Sherlock Holmes was very good at crime investigation.
He almost always used the process of elimination
To figure out, beyond all doubt, who did the perpetration.
Daleks represent the Kaled race’s last mutation.
Their stock-in-trade is murder which they call ‘extermination’.
They were designed inside the mind of Mr Terry Nation.
Science has given us more effective medication.
There’s no risk of autism from the MMR vaccination.
That was the conclusion of The Cochrane Collaboration.
A problem is termed complex if its time of computation
Grows exponentially with a parameter’s alteration.
And it looks best when it’s expressed using big-’˜O’ notation.
So why the hell is the song still nonsense?
There are more than a few “social networking” sites. Facebook is the site of choice for students, Scrabble enthusiasts and ex-students, MySpace is the site of choice for chavs, bands and morons, and Orkut is the preferred site for… er, other people. Exactly who uses The Richard Dawkins Social Networking Site is a mystery to me, although that’s principally because their sign-up form doesn’t work.
Another is FluxLead. But unfortunately, FluxLead are total scumbag cunt-twats, a slightly-tautological word I made up to increase the vitriol contained in the link text, which I know is used to characterise websites by search engines. FluxLead put a lot of stock in this. I know this because their principal form of advertisement is trackback spam on blogs. I have many of their spam messages in my database, although I’ve set my blog up not to show them to you. If you do a Google search for “Trackback from FluxLead”,Â you’ll find a number of websites they’ve hit (currently 37), and that excludes ones not indexed and ones that deleted it: you won’t find their attempted spam on this site on Google. One of these, though, is the second hit returned by searching for Fluxlead, so probably this page has a chance of taking that spot.
Now, I wouldn’t dream of writing them off right away for this, though. There’s no reason at all to think that they aren’t lovely people who set up a website with the best of intentions, then naÃ¯vely hired a really shitty marketing firm who trained spambots to inject spurious blog comments linking to Fluxlead in order to increase its PageRank. So I asked Fluxlead about the links.
Somebody at [ip.xx.xx.xx] just placed an irrelevant advert for your website on my blog, in the form of a trackback.
I do not appreciate having my website hijacked as a billboard for anyone without my consent. Do you endorse such spam, and if not, why am I receiving it?
This was the 10th of October. They’ve had two months now to answer that question. They’ve not taken even the basic minimum effort to appear reasonable. So I am left only to assume that they’re unprincipled scum. This notion is confounded by the fact that they’re very obviously not simply “a social networking site”, but it very obvious Facebook rip-off. They have a narrow, dark-blue-on-white website with a big, friendly deep green “sing up” button… The key difference, though, is that Facebook looks like a professional job, and FluxLead looks distinctly amateur. The terms of service are badly punctuated and laid out, and the whole site is littered with shitty clip-art. It looks rubbish.
It seems to be not doing too well: one of the “newest members” is called “ronnie”, and it won’t let you duplicate usernames.
I am glad they are failing. Serves them right.
I had what may be the worst lecture ever last week. I mean, it was easier to sit through than many I had as an undergraduate, but at least they did, if you could bring yourself to listen and having listened remember any of it, contain some information. This one… well, it did have information in it, and some bits were relevant. Other bits were even true.
I say some bits were relevant. Of course, it was all relevant. Granted the lecture was to dental PhD students and the lecture covered relativity, SI units (wrongly), string theory, gravity, religion and how mercury thermometers work (without mentioning that you shouldn’t use them), but all those things connect to dentistry, which is of course the Master Science from which all other sciences flow:
(I love that lecturers put slides on the intranet now. It makes it far easier to mock them.) In fact, he said, all sciences connect to dentistry, “except perhaps oceanography”. So now you know. As such, here’s a slide which clearly impacts directly upon dentistry:
I’m not convinced it makes any sense to unify one thing (such as alpha-decay) with itself, but there you go. I also like that he’s put “planets” and “apples”. Because really, Newton did “unify” the theories behind the motion of planets and that of apples, but the way it’s presented here — and there was not a spoken word of context for this — makes it look like there was a Theory Of Apples.
The lecture was actually delayed because the lecturer had forgotten it was on and turned up forty minutes late.
He stated that there are five SI units (there are seven) and that the second* is defined by astronomy (it isn’t).
In this slide, he explained that while science was good at finding secondary causes, religion was the path to true understanding:
I can’t say I was pleased with this slide (not least because he’s used a famous quote from a vocal atheist to make his point).
I didn’t like this slide either, but that’s just for composition reasons:
I don’t mean to just sit here and reproduce all his slides. I want to stop somewhere about where I think “fair use” ends. So here’s just a couple more of the most laughable:
I know it looks like I’ve resized the second one badly, but I promise you that’s what the original looked like.
Honestly, this lecture sounded like he’d been told to give a lecture but not what it ought to be about, so he tried to cram the entirety of mankind’s scientific achievement into forty-five minutes in no particular order. He failed. He bounced between sciences (but not oceanography) like a crazy lecture pinball, offering a few facts (and/or lies) about each but no real understanding of any.
I mean honestly, how am I (or anyone else) supposed to learn anything from this drivvel? This took two hours out of my day that I could have spent writing reports which would have saved me time I could have used to write programmes which would have saved me time I could have used to fix all the comupters in the building which would have saved me enough time to actually do some research. But no, it’s a requirement for my PhD that I sit through this nonsense.
Here’s a research question for you:
Note: this entry has been edited slightly after various comments pointed out an error. In the spirit of honesty I have left the comments in so you can see what error I made. I’m not certain why I’ve done that.
*That is, the unit of time called “the second”, not the second SI unit.