random thoughts to oil the mind

Tag: Internet Page 2 of 3

Back to the Fold

The Fold

The Fold

Many of us are probably familiar with the idea advanced in the early days of the Internet, that most users don’t know how to scroll through a website. Today that seems pretty unbelievable. The vast majority of websites, and indeed many of the most regularly visited, not only favour scrolling but to a large extent rely on it for navigation. So have the rules of the so-called ‘fold’ changed since the Internet’s inception? And what role should it play in decisions made regarding a website’s design today?

Viewing the web can be a very personal experience. Depending on your very own choice of browser, monitor or resolution, the web can look a very different place. If you’ve ever for some reason been forced to view one of your regularly visited websites on a much lower resolution monitor, for example, you’ll know what I mean. What once appeared spacious and easy to read suddenly seems squashed and cluttered. The cute little thumbnail images now take up good chunks of room and force you to scroll around them to get at the text. And should that site employ a fixed-width design that is wider than the current resolution, even more space goes to waste with the appearance of a side scrollbar.

Dick Dastardly’s DSL

Interesting little snippet about the current state of South African Internet services. Designed simply to show up the state of South Africa’s Internet options, the test pitted a pigeon against a connection delivered by their largest provider. The pigeon managed to deliver 4GB of data 60 miles in little over an hour, and it took the company another hour to upload the data (one can only assume they were for some reason using an old USB 1.o/1.1 connection). In this time, just 4% of the data had been transferred via ADSL. Humbling though this message might be, I really wonder if services in the UK would fare much better? At a rough estimate, in the total amount of time it took the pigeon, my own connection might have managed around 5% of the total. The average business connection would probably have achieved twice that, but either way, the pigeon method wins hands down. Having said that, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any alternative pigeon networks set up in the UK just yet. ‘Packet loss’ due to hawk attacks would be monumental.

[Via African Politics Portal]

Update 5th October, 2010: Twelve months after this little stunt in South Africa, a similar experiment was repeated in rural Yorkshire. This time 24% of a 300MB video clip had been uploaded by the time the pigeons had covered the 75 miles to Skegness.

Open Source Bridges


Bridge solutions

Many of us have found ourselves in this position. Your business or group make use of an online system, such as a forum, wiki, blog etc., which you then wish to augment or combine with some other system. How you go about doing that, of course, depends entirely on your goals and the systems you’re trying to use together. Design and styling are usually the least of those worries.

The problem which consistently presents itself when attempting such a combination is what to do with the userbase. Whilst this issue can sometimes be simply ignored, in the hope that only a small number of the users of one system will need access to the second, this isn’t always the case. When it comes to one userbase requiring access to two or more systems, the first question that needs to be answered is whether the user information should be shared, enabling a unified login procedure amongst other benefits. Requiring users to sign up to various different pieces of the puzzle is a time-consuming process, and one that many will find confusing and unnecessary. And since different online systems often have conflicting requirements when it comes to usernames and passwords, for example, this can also lead to more lost password checks and work for the system administrator. However, programming such functionality oneself certainly isn’t within the realms of the abilities of all of us, and keeping such modifications functioning across various systems and versions can be a painful procedure.

Wireless for the Masses

Free Wireless

Free hotspots in your area?

In the last year, I heard how Dublin City Council had given up on plans to run a free, city-wide wireless Internet programme on the grounds that it was against EU regulations, anti-competitive and bad for the consumer. As Ireland currently has some of the slowest and most expensive broadband options available in Europe, it seems obvious how the consumer will benefit from having to continue paying for their poor services. But there could be a nicer alternative to centralised WiFi. In a post much earlier this year, Bruce Schneier generated a lot of debate when he claimed he leaves his wireless network open and unprotected for just about anyone to use. This he considers a common courtesy, and whilst acknowledging the risks, considers them to be largely inflated. As many of the people commenting on his article or reporting about it elsewhere point out, there are risks involved, and as far as many of the people in authority are concerned, his common courtesy leaves him much more culpable. Many ISPs stipulate that sharing a connection in this manner would be a breach of contract, and from a legal perspective infringements undertaken by someone piggybacking the network could result in a rather unwelcome investigation for the owner.

Daily Links

Book Glutton – Another social internet site, this time designed around the premise that it’s good to read together. The site offers members a chance to form and join reading groups, enabling them to discuss and annotate the book while they read.

ControlC – This website provides a way to save a copy of everything its users ‘copy’ on their own machines, as a way of safeguarding against losing links and information they accidentally overwrite. Not sure how this works with files rather than text being copied, but it claims to be compatible with most major operating systems.

Visible Body – A fascinating look at human anatomy. Free 3D model illustrating the various systems of the body. Sadly currently only works with Internet Explorer.

What Should I Read Next? – Rather limited in scope, it simply does what it says on the tin, suggesting further reading to entered titles. It offers little more than you might get being an Amazon customer, and since this website relies on a small selection of registered users to provide its suggestions, it’s hard to imagine its current database of around 50,000 titles growing too considerably.

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