Robert Hampton

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5th September 2014

Happy Birthday to My Loose Acquaintance
Posted by at 7.00pm | It's My Life | No responses

Neil Turner tweeted this to me this morning:-

Of course, this doesn’t apply to your Facebook message. Thanks for all the birthday wishes! 🙂

31st December 2010

Twenty Ten – again. Again

July brought big changes to the newspaper industry, as The Times started charging for access to its web site. This was supposed to ensure a steady income stream for the newspaper, putting it on a secure financial footing for the future. However, it also resulted in the Times being completely removed from the online chatter of the blogosphere, as its news coverage and columnists were no longer accessible to the internet hoi-polloi. Still, I’m sure this decision made sense to someone somewhere.

The Supreme Court ruled that gay people facing persecution are entitled to claim asylum in the UK. I welcomed the decision, although my blog post is curiously vague about precisely why I welcomed it. Hmm…

In other gay-related news, I reviewed, with sadness, a booklet from the US Military discussing its anti-gay don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

Elsewhere, health and safety went mad as one person suggested banning rugby scrums. I felt uncomfortable on a train full of Orange Lodge marchers and I defended the traditional sitcom from an onslaught of criticism from trendy TV reviewers.

Read the rest of this post »

30th December 2010

Twenty Ten – again

What a year 2010 was! It had twelve months, each consisting of at least 28 days. On some of those days I made blog entries. Here are the highlights.

I began the year in January fretting about an alleged Crystal Maze remake starring Amanda Holden. This story fortunately turned out to be utter bollocks. Ginger people again proved that (yours truly excepted) they have no sense of humour or perspective. Britain experienced a deluge of snow, and Merseyrail impressed everyone by soldiering on throughout, a feat which they would surely repeat next time we experienced awful weather… right?

I finally joined the Wii owners’ club, just as the console stopped being cool. My rekindled love for video games did not result in me getting rickets. I also celebrated my first Twitterversary and cautiously welcomed the iPad.

I also took time to blog at length about a US comedian no-one has heard of over here, illustrating my post with YouTube clips which have now been removed for copyright infringement.

In more serious matters, the Haiti earthquake occupied people’s thoughts as a humanitarian catastrophe unfolded in the devastated country.

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2nd November 2010

Antisocial Behaviour
Posted by at 9.40pm | Films | 1 response

Last night I went to see The Social Network in the pleasant surroundings of FACT Picturehouse.

For the uninitiated, the film looks behind the scenes at the growth of Facebook, charting its progress from a minor web site covering Harvard University to the worldwide behemoth that it became. In particular, it focuses on the actions of founder Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues. I’m not sure how accurate a depiction it is, but suspect a usual amount of dramatic licence was taken.

I don’t want to give too much away about the film, except to say that the performances of the lead actors are great (Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg is particularly excellent, although it’s distracting that he looks a bit like Simon Amstell). The script keeps things moving along nicely, no easy task when quite a lot of the film is people typing code into a computer.

It’s nice to see Wget and Emacs get namechecked in a major Hollywood motion picture, too.

One thing I’ve learned from the film: never go into business with your friends — unless you’re prepared to lose one or two of them along the way as a price for success.

12th February 2010

Facebook login

I’ve posted before about the dangers of trusting Google to deliver you to the right place, and the “Facebook login” fiasco shows why it’s a problem.

Details are in the link above, but in a nutshell: the web site ReadWriteWeb posted an article with the title “Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Login”. That page quickly rose to the top of Google’s search results for Facebook login. Soon RWW were inundated with confused facebook users who believed that they had landed on Facebook’s login page and thought that they had fallen victim to one of the frequent redesigns that people love to complain about so much. The comment thread to that post is a sight to behold.

The question is: why didn’t they just type into their browser’s address bar directly? The answer, I suspect, is that a lot of people simply don’t know how to do this. For many people “Google = Internet”, the same way “Microsoft = Computer” is commonplace (or certainly was until recently).

They never bother to bookmark sites, preferring to use Google to find everything. This fiasco has demonstrated, in the most hilarious way possible, why that it is a bad thing, especially when the same users seemingly believe Google even when it throws up an obviously bad result.

It’s no wonder phishing and other scams are so commonplace with this level of internet literacy. It would be a good idea for Google and other big players on the Internet to embark on a programme of education in this area.

23rd August 2009

I’m coming up so you’d better get this party tarted
Posted by at 9.49pm | It's My Life | 3 responses

You can read any number of hand-wringing articles about the growth of the Internet leading to a reduction in actual face-to-face communication. This is, of course, nonsense. Most sensible Internet users (and I like to think I am one) will use Facebook, Twitter et al to complement other forms of communication, not as a replacement. In fact, I would argue that the growth of social networking sites is enriching friendships.

Take my friend Andrew, for example. He left for Australia a couple of weeks ago and will be away for a few months. In the old, pre-Internet days that would probably have been it as far as contact is concerned, except possibly for an occasional phone call; short due to the expense, inconvenient due to the time difference. However, thanks to the web, I can follow his every move on his photoblog.

Then there is Scott (aka the MerseyTart). I discovered his entertaining blog about a year ago. Anyone setting themselves the goal of visiting every Merseyrail station is already in my good books, and I said as much when I made my first tentative comment on his blog a few months back.

That comment led to Scott commenting here. Before long we were e-mailing back and forth and eventually agreed to meet up for a joint excursion onto the City Line, to “collect” a few more stations, and then retire to a hostelry for drinks.

That took place yesterday and it couldn’t have been a better day. I was going to write up my own account of the day, but frankly I couldn’t hope to improve on Scott’s version of events, so I’ll just direct you there instead (and please ignore the picture of me where I look really fat).

So, to summarise, the Internet can be great for meeting people. Just use a bit of common sense to avoid the nutters.

8th January 2008

Everything you expect from Robert, except a clever pun in the title
Posted by at 11.50pm | It's My Life | No responses

I was going to post a moan about the illogical web site blocking policy in use at work, which seemed to have been determined on a “stick pins at random into a list of web sites” basis. Why is Amazon blocked because it’s “shopping”, while is allowed? Why are we not allowed to access BlogSpot (“chat”), but LiveJournal is OK?

Anyway, I tried it today and it’s now slightly less stupid. When I say “less stupid”, what I actually mean is that Amazon is unblocked and I can shop for erotic books when I should be working (I can also log in to my account and ponder the reasons why my order, with an estimated dispatch date of 7th January, has not been posted). Any moan is therefore out of date and pointless. Oh well.

But wait! There are still interesting blog posts ahead. For example, relating to this topic: The other day I got a Facebook message from a girl who went to school with my sister. She wants me to add her as a friend. The problem is, I can’t remember her at all.

In fact, thinking about it some more, why the bloody hell should I remember? I wasn’t her friend. She was my sister’s friend. She didn’t come to our house for sleepovers with me; I never stayed up all night with her eating crisps, watching scary movies and talking about boys.

Now, I am not one of these people who will add any random person to my friends list (they have to, y’know, be an actual friend first). So I deleted the message. Now she’s sent me another message telling me how rude I am.

So I sent this message back to her. Firm but polite, I thought:

I have to be honest, I don’t remember you at all. Sorry!

I’m hoping she’ll take the hint and leave me alone. Because the last thing I want to be on a social networking site is social.