Robert Hampton

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27th October 2009

Under Destruction
Posted by at 1.06pm | Web | No responses

So it’s goodbye to GeoCities — Yahoo finally called time on the venerable webspace provider yesterday. The news didn’t really come as a shock — in fact, I was more surprised to discover that GeoCities hadn’t shut down years ago.

I never actually used GeoCities myself. Being the nerd that I am, I taught myself HTML code during the summer of 1997 and made full use of the free web space that my first ISP, Argonet, offered with their dialup package (speeds up to 34k!). I was rather scornful of GeoCities pages, with their vomit-inducing colours, distracting Animated GIFs and annoying JavaScript adverts popping up everywhere.

GeoCities was home to hundreds of thousands of web sites, but I think it’s safe to say that very few of them contributed greatly to the wealth of knowledge and useful data available online. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that most of them were vanity pages created purely for the satisfaction of their owners (nothing wrong with that, of course) or for people to share photos and stay in touch with family and friends. The latter function has been rendered largely obsolete by the advent of Facebook et al — no HTML skills necessary, just an agreement to turn over your personal information to an anonymous datacentre in Silicon Valley. And if you want vomit-inducing colours, just set up a MySpace page with some custom CSS.

Meanwhile, for pure self-aggrandisement, a personal blog does the job nicely, I’ve found. 🙂

6th July 2009

Girl Parts
Posted by at 8.26pm | Web | No responses

This has to be the weirdest viral marketing campaign I’ve ever seen.

2nd April 2009

Great Google-y Moogly!
Posted by at 11.07pm | Web | No responses

Recently I’ve noticed that some TV and radio adverts, instead of giving a full web site address, are simply saying, “search online for…”.

I really don’t like this phenomenon, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s an extra step in the process: rather than just typing in the address directly, you have to Google for it. That extra 3 seconds could have been used for something else, dammit!

Secondly, it’s incredibly patronising to assume that your audience isn’t clued-up enough to remember a simple address like Non-internet-savvy people may be uncomfortable with dots and slashes, but they should be educated about them, not pandered to.

Thirdly, unless your site is popular enough to be the first result in a search, or you have an unusual name which is unlikely to turn up stray results, you need to spend extra money on Google ads to ensure that a search turns up your site (see, for example, the site for the Monsters v Aliens movie).

I hope this is a fad that dies out, not least because it’s quite dangerous to rely on Google searches alone to direct interested parties to the right place. Former US senator Rick Santorum learned this lesson the hard way.

23rd August 2008

eCheques and Balances
Posted by at 2.02pm | Web | No responses

Stupid, stupid PayPal. I used it to pay for some stuff online earlier this week, not realising that it had defaulted to “eCheque” as a payment method. I subsequently found out that eCheques take approximately five hundred years to clear into the seller’s account, delaying the goods and generally being annoying.

All because I forgot to update my expired credit card details and missed the tiny print on the payment screen. A quick Google search confirms I’m not the only one to be caught out.

18th July 2008

Friends Disenchanted
Posted by at 8.08pm | Web | No responses

I’ve logged on to Friends Reunited for the first time in about two years. It’s really hard to believe that this web site was a genuine phenomenon back in 2001. Despite a recent-ish revamp, the whole place has an air of dereliction about it, as everyone has decamped en masse to Bebo et al.

And yet, I still feel compelled to update my profile, on the off-chance that someone is reading it. Ho-hum.

9th October 2007

Asterisks that gall

I’ve not been having much luck with passwords recently.

My workplace has instigated a new policy where we have to change our password once a month — and we are not allowed to use the same password again. So, on Monday morning, I dutifully changed my password when requested — and promptly forgot it, requiring me to sheepishly slink upstairs to our IT man and request that he reset it for me.

Tonight I arrived home to find a whole plethora of messages from confused and angry eBay users, demanding explanations for the confusing and anger-inducing messages I sent them. Yes, my eBay account has been compromised. Super! 🙁

17th March 2007

With tongues?
Posted by at 12.39am | Web | No responses

KissYouTube is an excellent little web site which makes it easy to download YouTube videos as .flv files.

10th December 2006

Pinochet? Timotei!
Posted by at 8.03pm | In the News, Web | No responses

I just found out about the death of Margaret Thatcher’s favourite murderous dictator — not from the TV, radio, or even a reputable news web site, but from reading Seb’s LiveJournal friends page.

How very Web 2.0 of me.

7th December 2006

Good question
Posted by at 1.20pm | Web | No responses

So What If You Have a Blog?

What’s the formula for a great personal blog? Why do so many blogs fizzle out after a few months? The essay linked above tries to answer those and other questions, and has some good advice for bloggers keen to avoid blog stagnation.

15th September 2006

Be bold in updating pages
Posted by at 9.53pm | Web | No responses

I don’t condone Wikipedia vandalism in any form, but I’ll be more forgiving if you’re a bit creative.

Take the page all about my beloved alma mater, for example.

You have the incorrigibly juvenile vandal:-

suck my anus

And the slightly more subtle “might miss it at first glance” vandal:-

The primary sports played by the school are rugby union, field hockey and cricket, however association football has recently been introduced as an “official school” sport and looks set to challenge the more established sports in coming years. The rugby training staff includes Ian McKie, former Scottish international, and Mike Slemen, former England international and team selector. The school also has a Combined Cadet Force, run in conjunction with Merchant Taylors’ School for Minge.

However, this doesn’t impress me. Any idiot (for example, the idiots quoted above) can go to Wikipedia and insert a sweary word or gay sex reference into an article. But come on: where’s the ingenuity? Where’s the flair? Where’s the honest-to-god old fashioned showmanship?

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